Luke 19:11-27 Jesus is the Son of Man Investing the Gospel

Luke 19:11-27

Jesus is the Son of Man

Investing the Gospel

 

Please grab your Bibles and turn with me to Luke chapter 19. As I continue to say, if you do not have a Bible, if you do not own a Bible, please see me after the service and we can get one onto your hands.

Continuing through Luke’s Gospel this morning, we are at the conclusion of Jesus journey to Jerusalem. Next Week in our series, he rides onto Jerusalem for the last week of his life. This was a journey that started way back towards the end of Luke chapter 9.

And through that journey, Jesus entire focus has been on the Kingdom of God. Everything, his teachings, his healings, his miracles, all of it. All designed to focus his followers on the coming kingdom of Heaven.

We have seen on this journey, many who have become citizens of the kingdom of Heaven, including just last week as we looked at Zacchaeus and his becoming a new creation. As we finished up with Zacchaeus last week, listen to the words of Jesus in verses 9 & 10. “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

 

          This declaration leads directly into our passage this week, Jesus last teaching before entering Jerusalem. We are going to read Luke chapter 19, verses 11 through 27. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation.

Luke 19:11-27, Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit writes:

 

As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. 12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. 13 Calling ten of his servants,[a] he gave them ten minas,[b] and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 15 When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. 16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant![c] Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ 20 Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ 24 And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25 And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ 26 ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 27 But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’”

 

Thus says the Word of God

Jesus tells those around him one more parable before they leave Jericho and go on up to Jerusalem. And I love these parables in Luke’s Gospel where Luke tells us the why and the purpose of the parable before he shares the parable. It takes a lot of the guess work and confusion out of trying to understand it.

The people who were watching Jesus, following Jesus and hearing Jesus had a great misunderstanding. They thought the kingdom that Jesus was teaching them about and pointing to was appearing immediately. IT appears that they assumed that upon His arrival in Jerusalem, they expected him to be established and inaugurated as King and would free Israel from Roman occupation.

And so, to dispel some of those expectations, Jesus tells them a parable. Do you know in TV shows, especially police procedurals, sometimes they claim that a particular show or plotline is based on true events? Ripped form the Headlines! They sometimes say. It doesn’t mean that they are telling the true story, but that they were inspired to use the true events as a basis for the story they wanted to tell.

That’s kind of what Jesus did here with this parable. We are not going to get into the history too much this morning, but the outline of the parable would have been immediately recognizable to the Jewish crowd as an event that happened almost 30 years prior, when King Herod the Great died and part of his kingdom was left to one of his sons.

But the details were slightly different as this story was about Jesus himself. A man was taking over authority and ownership as a King over that territory. However, to do so, he had to leave that territory for a time. As he was getting ready to do so, he left it in the hands of some of his most trusted servants.

We see this not only in the historical situation that I mentioned, but we see that this is going to be fulfilled in Jesus as well.  In Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection he is taking ownership and being granted authority over his Kingdom. Then he ascended into heaven, leaving his earthly kingdom. As he was about to ascend, he gave us the Great Commission, leaving the responsibility of his Kingdom in the hands of his servants. So, in very real ways, this parable is about us, believers in Jesus Christ, his servants as we wait for his return.

In the parable, the king gives his servants resources so that they could go about continuing his business while he is gone. And he gives them each the same resource, each servant gets 1 mina. This is one of the things that makes this story different than the well-known parable of the talents that we find in Matthew 24. They have some similarities and some similar phrasings, but the ultimate point and the set up are different.

In the parable of the talents, the servants are given different amounts of gifts and talents based on what they will do with them. One was given 10, one 5, etc. It is to show that we all have different spiritual gifts, talents and abilities that we can use for God, and that we are to use what he has given us, not compare us to what he has given to others.

In this parable, each servant is given 1 mina, about three months’ worth of wages. Each servant is given the same thing. The point of this is not to do more or less based on what we are given, but to be faithful. This parable is not that he has given us each different gifts and abilities, but that he has given us all the same mission, all the same resource, the Gospel.

Our job, until he returns is to be faithful and to invest what he has given us. Now, before we get into whether the servants invest their resources well, we see that not everyone was a faithful servant. There were many who were living in the kingdom of the parable, who hated the king.

Now, some of the phrasing can get a little confusing… The kingdom mentioned in this parable is not the kingdom of heaven in that citizens of the kingdom are believers who will be in heaven. Instead, the kingdom is this world, our earthly home where Jesus is still the king and all who live on earth are citizens of it. Jesus is King, he is creator, he has all authority over earth. But not all here today on this earth accept his authority. Some, maybe many hate that He claims to be their King. They reject his authority, and they rebel against Him. The good news is that he reigns whether they accept him or not. The good news is that He reigns whether they like it or not.

Jesus will deal with them later on…

TO make this simple, we are living between verses 14 & 15. Verse 15 shows that when the master returns, he will call his servants to give an account for how well they invested their resources while he was gone. At the Second Coming, Jesus will return, and he will have his servants stand and give an account.

As believers, we will still stand before him and give an account for our actions, for our sins, and for our faithfulness. Now, to be clear, and I’ll say it many different times in many different ways, e will not give an account in order to see whether we get into heaven or whether we deserve to get into heaven or if we have earned entrance into heaven. But we will give an account as to whether we have been faithful to what he has called us to and what he has enabled us to.

Again, all believers will have perfect eternal life in communion with God in Heaven. That is not at question in this parable. That is not a point the parable is trying to make or to undercut.

But there is one thing that we don’t talk a lot about, because I don’t think a lot of us understand it. I know I don’t understand it very well. But the Bible says it in enough different places that we have to look at it. Not all believers, when they enter heaven, will hear, “Well done, Good and faithful servant…” All believers enter heaven, but there will be different levels of rewards and responsibilities and things like that. Not less perfect, because its all-in eternal heaven, in perfect paradise. But things will be different based on our earthly service and faithfulness. The Bible speaks in it numerous times; Matthew 6:20, 1 Cor 3, specifically verses 8, 14 & 15, 1 Timothy 6:17-19, just to name a few and to show I’m not making this up. Again, I don’t fully understand it, but we can’t just ignore something the Bible speaks on, especially that often.

We see with the three servants that Jesus points out here in this parable an example of that. Remember that all servants were given the same amount, the same resource, one mina. And the first servant, he says, your mina has grown into 10 minas. He invested it well and it was almost as if it took over and did all the work on its own. Almost like we plant the seed, but the LORD brings the increase. The Gospel does all the work all by itself, if we are faithful to spread it and invest in it and live it and share it. He is both praised and rewarded by Jesus.

The second is close to the first. He is faithful. The 1 mina he received grew to 5 minas, again, almost as if on its own. Jesus rewarded this servant as well, though not quite to the same level as the first. But the principal is the same, those who were faithful with little, will be entrusted with a lot.

Now Jesus comes to the third servant. And he comes to Jesus and gives him his 1 Mina back to him. He tells Jesus, I dint want to waste your resources. I didn’t want to lose what you gave me. I kept it to myself so that I could give it right back to you since it was yours. He kept it under a bushel! He didn’t labor, he didn’t conduct business. He didn’t let the money multiply itself.

The Master rips into him. He uses his words back at him. Jesus will use our own words, our own attitudes, our own actions when confronting us and condemning us from our sins. And Jesus tells him, you could have done something minimal, requiring almost no effort on your part. IN that context, you could have put it in the bank so it could have at least made interest. In our context. At least live your life as a Christian, don’t give in and live just like the rest of the world and society. Even if you weren’t going to go out and invest in the Gospel, you don’t have to actively hide the fact that you are a believer. At least do the absolute minimum so that the work of the Gospel would still have a chance to replicate. Instead of burying it or hiding it.

And so, Jesus rebukes him and tells him that even what he had will be taken from him. Rewards will be withheld from you. Those rewards that would have gone to you will be reallocated to those who were faithful and were mentioned earlier. IF you are unfaithful with a little, you will lose what little you had.

Now, some see this third servant as an unbeliever, or as someone who was playing church. Someone who knew the role to play but was never really a believer. And that is possible. But to me, the way it reads, this man is saved. He is a servant of Christ. But he is saved with no reward. Salvation is not based on our faithfulness. Salvation is based solely on the grace of God alone. We are sinful. We are unfaithful. We are prone to wander. And yet, Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:13: if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.

In my eyes, these three servants and their interaction with the Master, this is all an in-house discussion if you will, amongst believers in the church. Another part of that reason is that there is another group of people that the Master will know deal with. The third servant is not lumped in with this next group.

In verse 27, The Master turns his attention to those mentioned back in verse 14. Those who were the enemies of the King. They were the ones who rebelled against him. Who rejected his authority? They are those who chose not to be a part of His Kingdom. He says bring them to me. They will be slaughtered.

God is a God of Love. We do not deny that. In fact, we embrace that, and we bank on that. But he is not only a God of love. He is a God of Justice. He is a God of Holiness. He is a God of wrath. All perfectly and all balanced with each other.

WE are all born as those who reject the King and rebel against him. All of us, in our own nature are these men. By Gods grace, through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, his death, burial and resurrection, he has purchased our forgiveness and offers it and salvation to any who believe, who turn to him, trust him and repent of their sins. He offers free for all who believe.

Bu those who choose to continue to reject Him. Those who continue to rebel against his authority, they will not receive eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven. They will not receive the peace of God. Instead, they will face eternal judgment. They will face the deserved and earned punishment for their sins. They will receive the full wrath of God.

Jesus shows this to John who describes it in Revelation 14:9-11:

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

OF course, it is plain to see that eternity in Heaven, even with no extra rewards, is infinitely better that eternal wrath and judgment.

 

As Jesus is telling this parable to those who are around him, at this point in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus time on this earth is close to an end. The people around him needed to make a decision. They had heard all that Jesus had said, all that he taught. They had seen or heard of all the miracles and the healings. They were presented with all the information. They needed to make a decision.

Now, Jesus’ time away is close to end. No one knows the day except the father, but it’s close to coming to an end. We have been presented with all the information needed. Now it is time for us to make a decision.

First, if you have not, receive Christ Joyfully, like we saw last week with Zacchaeus. Call out to Jesus, the Son of David, like we saw the week before with Bartimaeus.

Second, and only after the first, because with out the first, the second has no point, it has no effect. Second, work towards being a good and faithful servant.

Kent Hughes is the one who calls this “investing in the Gospel.”

He writes:

Are we investing in the Gospel? Are we investing what he has done for us? Are we investing what he can do for others? This is not a question of giftedness but of faithfulness. Are we using what we have to invest in the ministry of the gospel? There are many specific applications of this question. Are we using our money to invest the good news? Jesus minced no words about this: “I tell you, make friends for yourself by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9). Your money personally given to aid people in need or to promote evangelism and missions will win souls, eternal friends who will welcome you into Heaven! How do you spend your time? Your personal calendar tells all. Everyone can make massive investments in the matter of prayer, but few do. Do your mouths, the things we say, invest testimony and witness? There can never be such a thing as a passive investment. Gospel investment requires action.

 

Number 1, above, determines our eternal destination, our salvation. Receive Christ, cry out to him. Trust in Him for the forgiveness of sins.

Number 2 above affects what it looks like in our already determined eternal destination. I will finish up with a quote from JC Ryle who summed it up best: Our title to heaven is all of Grace. Our degree of Glory in heaven will be proportioned to our works.

 

Let’s Pray.

 

 

Mark 10:46-52 (Part of our series through Luke) Eyes will be opened

Mark 10:46-52

Jesus is the Son of Man

Part of our series through Luke

Eyes will be opened

                     Good morning. Let’s go ahead and open up our Bibles to Mark chapter 10.

No, I’m not confused, we are going to take a brief detour in our series through Luke. Last wee we looked at Luke 18: 35-43, the story of Jesus healing the Blind Beggar. I mentioned that this story was recorded in 3 of the 4 Gospels and Mark told us the beggars name, Bartimaeus.

Now, we had a great discussion about this passage on Wednesday morning at Prayer meeting and I’ve have numerous good discussions bout it throughout the week with some of you. So, I wanted to go back and reread the same story in the other Gospels.

As I did, I remember that I also preached through the Gospel of Mark previously, so I took out my notes from preparing for that sermon. It was fascinating to see what was so similar and what was different in the two telling’s of the story. So, I decided to go ahead and preach on the same story as we did last week, but from a different Gospel, from Marks Gospel.

 

So first, a brief overview of where this story takes place in Marks Gospel.

Recently, James and John went to Jesus, and they want him to give them a place of honor and glory in heaven next to him. Jesus sets them straight with some uncomfortable truths about the way things will work, telling them that however would be first among them, must be a slave to all. What we are going to see here this morning is that put into practice.

 

Interesting that, in Marks Gospel, just like we have been seeing Luke, Jesus is turning assumptions, beliefs and preconceived notions on their heads.

 

Now, Mark has been recording Jesus’ ministry. Jesus is a few years into his ministry here, the disciples and large crowds had been following him pretty much since the beginning. He started with some teaching and a lot of signs and miracles to show people that he is who he is saying he is, proving that he has authority from heaven, that he is the long-awaited Messiah. Once the disciples realized that he was who he said he was, Jesus’ ministry changed. There would still be some miracles, we will see one today. But his focus was on teaching and preparing the disciples for the time when he would leave them with the Holy Spirit, and they would build the church on the Solid Rock of Jesus Christ. During this time of teaching and preparing, Jesus was making his way to Jerusalem for the last time and was telling his disciples that he was going there to be killed, to fulfill his purpose, to suffer and die and rise again. And they just couldn’t quite grasp what he was saying.

I think that about catches us up, so let’s go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Mark 10, verses 46. As usual, I’ll be reading out of the English Standard Version. I do encourage you all to grab your preferred translation and follow along as we read the Word of God.

Mark, inspired of by the Holy spirit writes:

 And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.

 

         

 

 

May God Bless the Reading of his Holy Word

 

So, the first thing we see here is that Jesus is in Jericho at this point. He is getting ready to start the very last leg of his journey into Jerusalem. Jericho was roughly 15 miles northeast of Jerusalem and was often a staging area for the last part of people’s journeys into Jerusalem. It was a busy city, lots of people coming and going. Lots of traffic. At this point there would have been even more travelers than normal because they would have been on their way to Jerusalem to celebrate the upcoming Passover.

We see that, looking to take advantage of the amount of people and, hopefully the amount of grace and mercy that amount of people bring with them, Bartimaeus, a blind man, was begging to make enough money to eat and live. This man was in the very lowest caste of the Jewish culture. Now, he might not have been as unclean as a leper for example, but no one in Jewish society would listen to him or take any notice other than to possibly throw a few coins to him.

He was a man that was 100% dependent on those around him. Now this man is sitting on the side of the road, listening to the hustle and bustle, hearing the crowds, the constant buzz in the air. The he hears something extra, some extra excitement, something different. I’m sure he was asking those around, “What? What’s going on?” And then he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was walking by.

This blind man, sitting on the side of the road, every day of his life, listening to the people walk by, hearing them talk. He knew who Jesus was. He had to have heard people talking about him. Recounting his miracles, his healings, his teachings. He knows who Jesus was.

And what we see is that he doesn’t only know who Jesus is as a man going around, doing miracles and such, but he sees who Jesus is. We see him cry out, ““Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Bartimaeus had a correct view of who Jesus was. He calls him the Son of David. This is a messianic term from the Old Testament prophets. One website explains the term this way:

 

 

 

 When people referred to Jesus as the Son of David, they meant that He was the long-awaited Deliverer, the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies.

Jesus was addressed as “Lord, thou son of David” several times by people who, by faith, were seeking mercy or healing. The woman whose daughter was being tormented by a demon (Matthew 15:22) and the two blind men by the wayside (Matthew 20:30) all cried out to the Son of David for help. The titles of honor they gave Him declared their faith in Him. Calling Him “Lord” expressed their sense of His deity, dominion, and power, and calling Him “Son of David,” expressed their faith that He was the Messiah.

 

 

 

 

This blind man on the side of the road had more sight, more vision than even the disciples did. They heard him calling out to Jesus and they tried to stop him, to quiet him. We see in Marks Gospel, just a few paragraphs earlier, when the parents were bringing their kids to Jesus. The disciples tried to stop them, thinking they were freeing Jesus to do the important work. Jesus told them to let the children come to him.

Here is a similar happening. This blind is calling out for the Messiah to have mercy on him, and the disciples are trying to quiet him, presumably to free Jesus up for his journey to Jerusalem, to once again do his Messiah-y stuff. Jesus hears the man calling out, and then calling again to him, calling him the Messiah, the son of David and asking for nothing more than mercy.

So, Jesus stops and tells the disciples to have the blind man come to him. The disciples go to the man and tell him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” Notice that they very people who were trying to hinder Bartimaeus from calling out to Jesus, were the very ones Jesus used to bring Bartimaeus to him.  

And what does the man do? Does he slowly get up and make his way cautiously to Jesus? No, he throws off his cloak and sprang up and came to him. He was invited by Jesus, and he didn’t wade into the pool, one step at a time, but jumped right in with both feet.

Jesus asked him a familiar question. He asked Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” Now that question should sound familiar. In the previous section of Marks Gospel, right before this, James and John came to Jesus and said they wanted Jesus to do something for them. Jesus asked, in verse 36, “What do you want me to do for you?” We saw the Sons of Thunder answer very poorly last week. We see Bartimaeus give a much different answer here. Verse 51 shows that he responds to Jesus, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.”

          We have seen people in the Gospels call Jesus Rabbi, or Teacher before. The rich young man a few weeks ago, he called Jesus Good Teacher. But Bartimaeus goes a step further here. The word he uses, in Aramaic, is Rabboni. We only see it in one other spot in the Gospels and that is in John’s Gospel, after Jesus raises from the dead and appears to Mary. There she calls him Rabboni. This is like Rabbi but with mass amounts of extra respect and honor. It means “My LORD and My Master.”

And Bartimaeus doesn’t ask for honor. He doesn’t ask for privilege or power or anything like that. He simply asks to see. He asks for mercy. He hears Jesus, he is talking to Jesus. He wants to see Jesus. He wants to see the crowds walking in and out of Jericho. He wants to see the sights of the smells and sounds he has been experiencing. He wants to see.

And what is the first thing he sees? I know I used this last week too, but it just fits so perfectly, I think. Fannie Crosby was a prolific hymn writer that was blind. She wrote many, many hymns. Most people saw her blindness as something that held her back or something she needed to overcome.

One well-meaning preacher once told her, “I think it is a great pity that the Master did not give you sight when he showered so many other gifts upon you,”

Fanny Crosby responded at once, as she had heard such comments before. “Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I was born blind?” said the poet, who had been able to see only for her first six weeks of life. “Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.”

          She knew that all of creation pales before the face of Christ. The face of Christ is the first thing that Bartimaeus saw. He saw the man that gave him sight, that gave him life, that saved him. Jesus told Bartimaeus, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.”

          Bartimaeus knew that, in spite of all his troubles, all his problems, all his hardships, Jesus could take care of him. We get in this story, once again, that blending of physical blindness and sight being literal in its own right, but also standing in for spiritual blindness and sight. He was saw that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior, without being able to see.

Jesus had already opened the eyes to his heart, his soul. The Holy Spirit had already healed him from his eternal affliction and given him the gift of faith. And Jesus commends him, saying that it is his faith that made him well.   With this point, we want to be clear. We want to be specific and true to the Word. Jesus said Bartimaeus faith made him well.

One commentator exposits this way:

Faith can make us well. This is not magic, or superstition, or some simple fix of course. It seems clear, to me at least, that when Jesus says, “Your faith has made you well” he is not saying that these people somehow believed their way into wellness. Rather he is pronouncing their wellness, declaring it, making it happen for them. It is Jesus who heals, and faith that receives that healing. And so it is, or can be, for those who hear this story and this good news. Faith can make us well. Faith can open our ears, unstop our ears — even raise us from death. This is the power of the promise wherein faith and forgiveness, faith and wellness, meet; this is the power of Jesus’ word for salvation.

To be clear, Jesus and only Jesus heals. Jesus will heal our broken faith if we ask. He will not always heal our broken bodies, not when we ask. But our broken bodies will be healed when, because of our broken faith being healed, we are together with him for eternity in heaven.

See, we find what we are looking for. If we are looking for the Christ, the God of the Universe to reveal himself to us, he will. If we are looking for a god that we pick and choose what he is like, that’s what we will find, no real God at all.

Many of us can acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, that he is God, and yet we are still blinded to what that means. We say we acknowledge Jesus as our LORD and Savior, but often, practically, we only see him as one or the other.

We may act as though he is our savior. We are forgiven of our sins, we are saved from hell, we are redeemed. But how do we act. We don’t act like Jesus is our LORD. We don’t do what he tells us. We don’t follow his commands, turn away from sin, love your neighbors. We don’t allow him to be the LORD of our lives.

Our we go the opposite side. We live with Jesus being our LORD, our king, our authority. We follow the rules, we obey. We live good, moralistic lives continually trying to live up to some impossible standard that we cannot meet. Trying to live up to that standard because, if we do, we might just be good enough, we might just be better than out neighbor enough to get ourselves into heaven.

The truth is not that Jesus is our LORD or he is our savior. The truth is both. We see Bartimaeus practically living, knowing that Jesus is both. After he gets his sight ack, what does Bartimaeus do? He followed Jesus. This is the same thing we see Peter, Andrew, James, John, Levi all do when Jesus calls them. They follow him. This is what we see the Rich Young Man called to do and then walk away sadly, to follow Jesus.

Bartimaeus sees and acts like Jesus is his LORD and Savior. He saw this spiritually before getting his physical sight back and he saw this physically after being healed. Bartimaeus asked to see and what he saw was Jesus’ face. The face of his LORD and savior and he followed him. He was following him at what ended up being the hardest time in Jesus’ life to follow him.

Jesus was getting ready to enter Jerusalem to live the last week of his life. Knowing he was going to suffer horribly and die, he finished teaching his disciples, saying goodbye and spending time with them, his friends. He would be praying so hard, under so much stress that he would sweat blood. And then he would go and fulfill his purpose, to give his life as a ransom for many. He would prove that he is not only our LORD but our savior as well.

Are you living, knowing the full Jesus, the Whole Jesus? Is he just your LORD? Is he just your savior? Or is he both? Have you asked him to heal your broken faith? So that you can know the full Jesus? Or do you know the Jesus that you created? The Jesus that fits who you think Jesus should be.

Jesus says in Matthew 7, verses 7 & 8:

 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

 

We will find what we are looking for, and we will find the Jesus we are looking for. Are you looking for the Jesus that fits your mold? Or are you searching, seeking, asking to see the real, true, biblical, historical Jesus. The Jesus that transcends our expectation, which transcended his friend’s expectations. The Jesus that was and is who he said he was. The Jesus that is both LORD and savior? Which Jesus are you finding, which one are you looking for?

The only right answer is for Jesus to be our Rabboni, our LORD and our Master. RC Sproul points out: Jesus had just taught his disciples to about the importance of being servants. To be a servant is to serve a master.” The way you serve a master is by doing, not what you think you should do, but instead by doing what he tells you to do.

Bartimaeus gained his sight and the first thing he did, the only thing it says he did, was that he followed Jesus into Jerusalem. He left everything he had, which was little, but he was so excited to be a servant of Jesus and that he followed him. That’s what Jesus expects from us, what he demands from us. Be aware of the gift he gives us, the gift of spiritual sight. From there, acknowledge him as both LORD and Savior and jump at any and every opportunity he presents to you to serve him.

The gift is free and clear. The responsibility after wards is clear. Which Jesus are you willing to see? The one you created in your mind, in the mind of society. Or the Jesus who is your LORD, your, your Master?

Jesus tells us what to do if we believe in the true, biblical Jesus. We are to recognize who we are and who God is and not mixing them up. And that’s what we recognize right now with communion. We recognize and remember what Christ has done and what he has accomplished for us.

And so, we remember. Constantly, regularly. We do it every first Sunday of the month. We remember and we know that we are in his hands because we have responded by faith to his death on cross and resurrection. God grace poured out on those covered with his blood, the blood of the lamb, come to take away the sins of the world. He instead he spares us from the wrath of God.

He condescended from Heaven, still God, was born a man, a human baby and lived the perfect, sinless life that we needed to and were unable to live. HE paid the penalty, paid the wages for our sins so that we could be reconciled to God. He paid that penalty with his life. In an act of pure, perfect love, Romans 5:8 says:  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Before he did this, Jesus told us to remember this and to celebrate it as often as we get together. We do this in a monthly basis, we celebrate communion as a church family.

We remember and we follow the commands of Jesus that he gave his disciples during the Last Supper.

Luke’s Gospel records the Last Supper, and he writes of Jesus telling his disciples in chapter 22, verses 19& 20: He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying: “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after super, he took the cup, saying, “This is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” 

We do this in remembrance of Him. Paul speaks about communion in 1 Corinthians 11 and before we get into it, I have one thing to share that Paul tells us, first, communion is for believers. It is in remembrance for what he has done for us. It is us obey his commands by our faith in him. Communion itself does not save. It does not forgive sins; it does not impart righteousness or cleanse your soul. If you are not a follower of Christ, we just ask that you pass the elements along and then, if you have any questions or want to take that step, you can talk to myself or one of the deacons after the service.

 

Now, we are going to do things a little bit different this morning, due to taking some precautions. We have individual cups that contains both the wafers, which symbolize Jesus’ broken body on the cross. His Death that pays the penalty for our sins. It also contains the juice, symbolizing the shed blood of Christ, which purchases our eternal life in Christ, through faith.

First, we will take the wafer together. Afterwards, we will take the juice together and we will be united together under the cross and blood of Jesus Christ. I will pray and we will come to the LORDs table.

 

 

 

 

Luke 18:15-30 Jesus is the Son of Man Questions about Eternal Life

Luke 18:15-30

Jesus is the Son of Man

Questions about Eternal Life

All right! Let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 18. IF you need a Bible, if you do not have a Bible, please see me after the service and we will make sure to get on into your hands.

Now, as we have been going through the Gospel of Luke, I hope you have noticed that Jesus doesn’t waste time. He doesn’t waste energy. He doesn’t waste focus. He does what needs to be done, he spends time where it is important, and he teaches what is important.

And so, Jesus has spent his time teaching the important things to those who needed to hear it. He was telling them what they needed to hear and to learn. He was teaching them about the Kingdom of God. He was teaching them about righteousness, about justice. He was teaching them about humility. And he was teaching them trust wholly and completely in God’s grace and mercy for the forgiveness of sins.

And one of the reasons that Jesus spends so much time focusing on these things is not that the people at the time had no idea or concept of these things, but instead that these things and the way the would manifest and come about would be in direct opposition of the assumptions the conventions and the expectations that the people had about these things.

So, Jesus was stirring up controversy. And people are drawn to controversy. And so, they came to hear what Jesus was teaching. And they brought their assumptions and their biases with them. Many also brought their kids with them and many brought genuine questions with them for this great teacher to answer.

And that’s where we will pick up this morning as we look at Luke chapter 18, verses 15 through 30. I will, as always, be reading out of the English Standard Version, though I encourage you to grab your preferred translation and follow along as we read straight from the Word of God.

So, Luke 18:15-30, Luke writes, inspired by the Holy Spirit,

 

Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

18 And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” 21 And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 23 But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. 24 Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” 28 And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” 29 And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers[b] or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”

 

 

Thus says the Word of God.

 

So, as Jesus became more famous, many were bringing their babies and children to Him. Many recognized that Jesus was a holy man, that he was on Gods side, so to speak. They recognized that he was more than just a guy. They wanted Him to bless the kids and babies.

This was not a one-time event. This was a frequent event that happen often. Now, the common convention of the day was that children were a burden and a waste of time and resources until they became old enough to contribute to the family.

They were to be not seen and even more rarely heard. This was another example of people, in this case, children, needing to earn love and respect and to earn your keep, even within families.

Jesus showed that this should not be the case. Children, even as young as babies, even when they can’t contribute anything tangible to the family are blessings just in themselves.

But this was not how people thought at the time. Even the disciples thought that these kids coming up and taking up Jesus’ time were a waste of time for him. They might not have thought about it in those terms, but at minimum, they were thinking and probably saying to Jesus, “C’mon, Jesus, you’ve got more important things to do with your time than play with these kids.”

Jesus rebukes them, tells them how wrong they were. He says, let them come to me. He says that to such as these belongs the kingdom of God. Now, he is not saying that every child is automatically in the kingdom of God, that’s not the point he is making. Instead, he is saying that those who approach Jesus with faith and trust and dependance like this child will inherit the kingdom of Heaven.

You must receive the kingdom like a child would. Not stay a child, not a childish faith, but a childlike faith. This is the faith and trust that kids have in their parents. When parents tell their kids things, the kids believe it. Kids trust in their parents, the have faith in their parents. That their parents will make them better, that they will protect them, that they are the biggest and the strongest and all of that. That’s how we are to approach Jesus.

And kids can’t earn it. They can’t do anything to contribute. We can’t earn God’s love. We can’t earn his salvation. The kids can’t contribute to their family in a tangible way. We can’t contribute anything to God’s kingdom in any tangible way. Those with simple faith in Christ and those who depend completely and solely on Christ the way that children depend completely and solely on their parents, only those will enter the kingdom of Heaven. Those whose faith is partial and who try to earn to love and respect of God will not enter the kingdom.

After this, we see that a man comes up to Jesus. A man whom the Bible describes as a rich, young ruler. This was a seemingly good man. He was absolutely a good moral outward man. He was focused on the right things. He was asking good questions.

He was wondering about the life after this one. He knew there was more to it than just simple obedience. For him, the treasures of this world did not satisfy as he expected them to.

He has heard about Jesus of Nazareth, this amazing teacher, full of wisdom, dispensing miracles, healings and answers. And so, he approaches him with deference and respect, calls him Good Teacher and Asks him, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

For me, the two most telling words in that question are I and inherit. Those two words tell us what the young man believed. From that, we see two things that the young man thought he knew.

First, the kingdom of God, eternal life is inherited, not merited. And he was right about this. And second, that there was something that he had to do in order to inherit eternal life. On that note he was wrong.

Now, from the outside, you might see these as two contradictory views and beliefs, and you would be right. But you must remember and hopefully recognize that often in our lives there is a disconnect between a correct biblical, intellectual theology and a poor, practical, real-life theology.

We saw this from the Pharisee last week, as he prayed, “Thank you, God, that I am so good.” That intellectual affirmation that God is the reason and the cause of all good things, yet he practically takes the credit for his goodness.

There is a different attitude between the Pharisee and the rich young, and that is important. However, it’s the same disconnect between head knowledge and practical living.

 

So, this man asks Jesus this question and Jesus will respond to him, but not at all the way he expects. He starts by challenging and dismantling his mindset. If you are going to use words, make sure you use them correctly.

The rich young man did not see Jesus as God, as the Messiah. He saw Jesus as a good, wise man. Jesus says, why do you call me good? Only God is good. In this, Jesus is denying that He himself is God. Instead, he is telling the rich young man that he needs to recognize that yes, he is indeed a good teacher, but it doesn’t end there. He can not be only a good teacher. But if he is a good teacher and the only one who is good is God, then first, recognize Jesus as God. Make sure that you are giving God the credit that he is due.

Now that that is out of the way, Jesus tells him, you know all the laws, you know the moral commands that God has given down. You know what you are supposed to do and what you are supposed to obey.

The man says, yup. Been there, done that. Ever since I was a kid, I obeyed God, I did all that I was supposed to. He says all his life he has kept the commands. He has followed the law. He has done good. He has earned the rewards he has been given. He is thinking, basically saying, what am I missing? There has to be something more.

Jesus doesn’t even address that point. We all know that this young man didn’t keep the law as well as he thought he did. And even if he did, Jesus makes it clear in the Sermon on the Mount that it is not just our outward moral behavior. But if we lust in our hearts or we murder someone in our hearts, then it’s the same as acting on it.

Jesus doesn’t deal with that issue, not because its not true. But because tis not relevant to his point here. Nothing everything that is true, not everything that can be said, always needs to be said.

Instead, Jesus tells him, you have all those things, you have all those rewards. But no matter how good you have been, or how many laws you kept, there is still one thing you lack. You still don’t have the kingdom of God. You still don’t have eternal life. You still don’t have salvation.

Jesus tells him specifically, not all Christians, but this man specifically, sell all you have and give it to the poor and come follow me. Now, is Jesus saying, DO this and live? No, of course not. He was not giving the guy extra rules to follow in order to get into heaven. What he was doing was showing the rich young ruler where his sin was. He was showing him what commands he was breaking. He was showing him what repentance looks like.

The rich man saw what Jesus was saying. He knew what Jesus was pointing out. And he walked away sad. He did so because he was unwilling to give up his riches, his wealth, his comfort and his living. He was holding his wealth with a closed hand, not willing to let go.

He was idolizing his wealth. He was keeping the outer, physical, moral commands, but he was breaking the first commandment, to have no other Gods before the one true God. He was also breaking the greatest command, to love God with all your heart, mind, body and soul. He walked away because he put his wealth above God. He walked away because he was unwilling to pay the price of discipleship. He was unwilling to repent and to open his hand and let go of his idolatry.

Jesus watched him walk away, and sadly spoke about how hard it was for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God. And he said something that people have been trying to rightly interpret ever since. He says, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

And we have created all sorts of ways to read this statement, all sorts of ways to have it make sense. And I’m sure some of them will be brought up on Wednesday morning. But I think that Jesus point is that there is no way for this to make sense. There is no physical possible way for a camel, one of the largest animals the people would have been aware of, could go through the eye of a needle, so thin and tiny and small. I think Jesus was using hyperbole, intentional exaggeration in order to make a point, that this was a physical impossibility.

For many, maybe most, people who has wealth and riches, and today in America, compared to the majority of the world’s population, we are all the rich and the wealthy. But for most, the money and wealth give stability. It gives comfort. It gives assurance. It makes us think we are self-sufficient. We rely on it and ourselves. And it makes us not rely on or depend on anyone else for anything. Including God. And that means no kingdom…

 

On the heels of this, we get another great question in verse 26. Who then can be saved? In those days, wealth was consciously considered to mean that you had found favor with God, that he was blessing you because you had done good. Its still the same today only it’s much more subconscious. And so, if even the rich young man couldn’t get into the kingdom, what hope is there for the rest of us?

And that question is the whole need and reason for and the whole point of the Gospel. Jesus says it right there in response to the question.

What is impossible with man is possible with God.

Who can be saved? No one by themselves. No one can do good. No one can earn merit. No one can keep enough of the law. Using the normal measures that man tries to use, no one can be saved.

But God can save. And only God can save.

 

Once again, Jesus is showing that expectations will be different from what will actually happen and take place. Here is what you expect to happen. Heres what will actually happen.

Now, of course, the disciples were a little nervous. They wanted a little reassurance. Jesus! We did what you told us too! Again, Jesus’ point was not to tell every believer that they had to sell all their possession and give them away, but instead that we all need to be willing to if called to do so. We need to be willing to hold all things with an open hand. We need to be willing to give up anything for the sake of God. We are to make sure that nothing is getting in the way of our walk with God.

We are to be willing to leave all and give up all in order to pay the price of discipleship. And Jesus also reassures. He says that all who give up what they are called to give up here in this life will be rewarded. What you give up for God, for Jesus, for the Kingdom, will be repaid many times over in eternity.

Ultimately, we need to remember that just because we know the truth, just because we can speak the truth, doesn’t mean that we will automatically act on the truth. The rich young man here was told the truth and he knew it, yet he walked away sad because he would not act the truth.

And it was because he was holding on to his wealth as an idol, as something he would not let go of, even if God asked. And so, holding on to his wealth in this world, cost him even more wealth and immeasurable riches in the life to come.

Introspection and a dedicated, purposeful desire to do the will of God and to sacrifice for Him are what God asks for. What are those things we are holding onto? What are those things we don’t want to give up? What are those things that, despite knowing and speaking the truth, we don’t really believe or act on? That’s what we need to be looking at.

Let’s pray.

 

 

 

 

Luke 17:1-10 Jesus is the Son of Man Sin, Temptation & Faith

Luke 17:1-10

Jesus is the Son of Man

Sin, Temptation & Faith

All Right! Let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 17. As I say often, if you do not have a Bible or need a Bible, please see me after the service and we can help get one into your hands.

So, in the section of Luke that we have been looking through, Jesus has been talking about the eternal consequences of our earthly decisions. And of course, the key to it all is that we are saved by the grace of God alone. WE are not and cannot be saved or be kept saved or earn any amount of favor in Gods eyes, through our own righteousness. It can only be through and from Christ’s righteousness.

We are called to be good stewards of the gifts that God has given us. Money, gifts, time, talents, even faith. WE are to use what he has given us for his benefit, for his glory and for his profit.

But he is the one who saves, not us. He is the one in control, not us. That does not absolve us of our responsibility to live right, to be good stewards and to strive for holiness, but He is the one who is sovereign and who is on the throne.

So, let’s go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 17, verses 1-10. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version though I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. We read, as the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to write, Luke 17:1-10:

 

And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin[a] are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.[b] Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

“Will any one of you who has a servant[c] plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly,[d] and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants;[e] we have only done what was our duty.’”

 

 

Thus says the Word of God.

 

So, Jesus here is back to speaking to his disciples. He had been speaking to the Pharisees and now has turned back to the disciples. If you are Disciples, that means you are followers of Jesus. Disciples want what He wants. They want to do what He wants them to do. They want to please Him.

So, want that means is that they don’t want to sin. They want to be holy. They want to follow the words of Jesus, who said be Holy as I am Holy. Be prefect as your father is perfect.

Disciples recognize how horrible, how crushing, how devastating their sin, is and how it affects both Jesus and ourselves. The wages of sin is death. This is true both spiritually and physically. Physical death was brought into this world because of sin. And we are dead spiritually because of our sin, in fact we are physically born spiritually dead and thus the need to be born again as Jesus tells Nicodemus.

A disciple has a changed heart, a dead heart changed from stone to a living heart of flesh. A Disciple has been reborn, born again, brought from death to life by the Holy Spirit. And because of this, a disciple hates his sin.

The flesh, default human nature loves and craves sin. The unconverted, the unsaved love their sin, desire their sin. And there is some of that that sticks around in the flesh of a believer, in the flesh of the disciple. For more insight into this, Romans 7 is very clear. WE will continue to fight against our sin nature as long as we are alive on this earth.

Romans 8 tells us that we are to put to death the deeds of the flesh, or sin. Because if we don’t, that sin will be the death of us.

And Jesus starts here, and he says that temptations will come. The opportunity to sin will be there. The desire to sin will be there. The inclination to sin will be there. That battle will be a part of this life. You must be aware of these temptations; you must notice them in order to be able to resist them and to fight against them.

And so, Jesus tells us that the temptations will take place in this life. But the fact that these temptations are there and will take place is not an excuse to give in to them. Temptations existing are no excuse to sin.

But Woe to you who the temptations come through. 1 Corinthians 8 and Romans 14 both tell us that causing a fellow brother or sister in Christ to stumble then we are in Sin. Temptations exist but you can’t be the cause of that temptation.

Now, to be clear, you are not responsible for other persons sins. Period. Full Stop. End of Sentence.

But also true is that you are in sin, you are wrong if you are the temptation or if you put the temptation in front of someone. You are in sin if you are a stumbling block to others.

I’m reminded of Romans 1:32, where Paul writes, at the end of a long list of sins, Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Jesus says if you are a stumbling block, if you are the temptation that causes someone to sin, it would be better to have a millstone tied around your neck and drowned. A Millstone was big enough and heavy enough that it was not able to be moved be a person, with the sole exception of Samson, and Oxen were usually used instead. Suffice it to say that if one were around, one’s neck it would not be good.

Jesus’ point is that it would be better to receive the worst punishment in this world than to receive the eternal punishment, like the rich man in Hades we looked at last week, which awaits you if you cause one of Jesus followers to stumble in sin.

When Jesus uses the term Little Ones, we often thing of this where Jesus talks about children being the little ones. But it also applies more generally to all believers and followers of Christ, especially young, immature followers. In the context here, this longer passage of Jesus teaching starts in Luke 15, where sinners and tax collectors were gathering around and trying to follow Jesus.

 

Jesus says in verse 3 that we are to pay attention to ourselves. We are to worry less about other sins than our own. Yes, we are to rebuke sin when we see it, specifically in our follow brothers and sisters. Matthew 18 lays out some of the clearest principles in that.

But it doesn’t end there. If a fellow Christians repents, we are to forgive them. The two statements here are connected. Galatians 6:1 & 2, Paul writes: Brothers,[a] if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

One commentator writes, “The duty to rebuke is attached to the responsibility to forgive.” The reason we rebuke sin, the reasons we confront it is to bring about forgiveness and repentance.

And Jesus doesn’t just say to forgive, but if one comes to and says, I repent, you forgive over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. He says that if one comes to us 7 times in one day, we are to forgive them each time. & of course, being a symbolic number representing heavenly perfection, representing God himself.

In 1 Corinthians 13, when Paul writes about what Love is, says that Love keeps no record of wrongs.

Now, one of my first questions is why would we have to forgive someone so many times? And IM sure many of you had the same question.

Think about you and God. Think what happens if and when the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin. 1 John tells us that if we confess our sins then God is faithful to forgive them.

As a Christian, if and when you sin, God will forgive you as many times as you repent and go back to him. IF you are a Christian, a disciple, you will repent every time you give in to the temptation of sin. That’s why Martin Luther said that a Christians life is one of repentance. We will be continually repenting through out this life. So, we will repent. And God has already forgiven us.

When Jesus died on the cross, his blood, his death bought the forgiveness of all sins, past, present and future of all who will believe by faith in Jesus Christ our LORD.

We are to follow that principle in all that we do. Our innate desire, our natural tendency is to repay evil for evil, to do to others what they do to us. We want to change the Golden rule from Do unto others as you would have them do unto to, and make it instead Do unto others before they do unto you. Some of the hardest words to believe in the Bible is, Vengeance is Mine says the LORD.

A couple of things I want to say about forgiveness. First, we need to remember to forgive ourselves. Think of it this way. If we are sorry and we are repentant, but we don’t forgive ourselves, we are putting ourselves above God. We are putting our opinion above Gods. We are saying that his forgiveness isn’t enough. His forgiveness is secondary to out own.

Second, a few things about what forgiveness is not. Forgiveness is not Forgive and Forget. Forgiveness is not no consequences from your actions. Forgiveness is not letting them continue to hurt you.    Forgiveness is not letting someone back into the very same spot in your life as before, not automatically at least. That’s reconciliation, which takes two. Forgiveness just takes one.

 

Now, the disciples heard what Jesus was saying and they cried out, “LORD, increase our faith!” This is right in line with Mark chapter 9, where the dad says, “I believe! Help my unbelief!”

Things that we should all be praying and crying out each and every day.

All those things that Jesus has been telling them, all the things he just said; resist temptation, repent, forgive, forgive over and over. None of those things are things we can do without faith. None of those are things we can do without the Holy Spirit. None of those are things we can do without the strength of God.

Remember we are to pay attention to ourselves. And faith is not of our own doing, but our faith is a gift from and of God. We need faith in order to do the things God has told us to do.

And Jesus talks about faith. And when he speaks this way about faith, it is often misunderstood. First, it is not the size of our faith that matters, but the fact that we have any faith. One commentary says that the issue is not the size of faith but its presence.

Second, Jesus’ point is not for us to be able to uproot mulberry trees or to literally move mountains, or any other physical supernatural thing like that. But instead, his point is that our small faith, if it is genuine faith can be enough for us to be able to forgive others over and over again.

And then he starts talking in a mini parable in verses 7-10. His main point is that we are unworthy servants of God. He doesn’t owe us anything. The master is not going to serve the servant. The servant still has more work to do.

We owe him everything. Including and especially our lives. We are to be faithful to our duties as a servant of God no matter what the demands may be.

Jesus says that the Master will not serve the servant, at least not here in this world. And yet, in eternity we see what will happen. At the kingdom feast, at the eternal wedding feast, all the servants of Christ will be seated and served. As we saw back in Luke 12:35-37:

“Stay dressed for action[f] and keep your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants[g] whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them

So, we get to celebrate eternity with the King at the eternal wedding feast thanks to the grace of God and his forgiveness of our sins. We have our heart changed by the Holy Spirit and we repent of our sins and by faith we are saved.

Jesus reminds us constantly that we have been forgiven and that it is he that accomplished it. HE tells us to remember.

And so, we remember. Constantly, regularly. We do it every first Sunday of the month. We remember and we know that we are in his hands because we have responded by faith to his death on cross and resurrection. God grace poured out on those covered with his blood, the blood of the lamb, come to take away the sins of the world. He instead he spares us from the wrath of God.

He condescended from Heaven, still God, was born a man, a human baby and lived the perfect, sinless life that we needed to and were unable to live. HE paid the penalty, paid the wages for our sins so that we could be reconciled to God. He paid that penalty with his life. In an act of pure, perfect love, Romans 5:8 says:  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Before he did this, Jesus told us to remember this and to celebrate it as often as we get together. We do this in a monthly basis, we celebrate communion as a church family.

We remember and we follow the commands of Jesus that he gave his disciples during the Last Supper.

Luke’s Gospel records the Last Supper, and he writes of Jesus telling his disciples in chapter 22, verses 19& 20: He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying: “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after super, he took the cup, saying, “This is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” 

We do this in remembrance of Him. Paul speaks about communion in 1 Corinthians 11 and before we get into it, I have one thing to share that Paul tells us, first, communion is for believers. It is in remembrance for what he has done for us. It is us obey his commands by our faith in him. Communion itself does not save. It does not forgive sins; it does not impart righteousness or cleanse your soul. If you are not a follower of Christ, we just ask that you pass the elements along and then, if you have any questions or want to take that step, you can talk to myself or one of the deacons after the service.

 

Now, we are going to do things a little bit different this morning, due to taking some precautions. We have individual cups that contains both the wafers, which symbolize Jesus’ broken body on the cross. His Death that pays the penalty for our sins. It also contains the juice, symbolizing the shed blood of Christ, which purchases our eternal life in Christ, through faith.

First, we will take the wafer together. Afterwards, we will take the juice together and we will be united together under the cross and blood of Jesus Christ. I will pray and we will come to the LORDs table.

 

 

Luke 16:14-18 Jesus is the Son of Man Law and Gospel

Luke 16:14-18

Jesus is the Son of Man

Law and Gospel

 

All right! Please turn with me in your Bibles to Luke chapter 16. As usual, if you do not have a Bible, or you need a Bible, please see me after the service.

          So, in this section of Luke, Jesus has been talking about the gift of grace. Salvation by grace alone. He is reiterating and emphasizing that our salvation, our justification has nothing to do with our possessions, or our actions, or anything else about us.

          And anytime people, or in this case, the God Man, emphasizes the free gift of grace, they are going to get push back. The term that fits is “antinomian.” IT means against the law, or anti law. And when someone says that what they mean is that a person doesn’t care about the law, that they think you can do anything you want, and it doesn’t matter because God is grace and love and forgiveness.

          The Pharisees had seen sinners gathering around Jesus, tax collectors even!  Jesus didn’t care that they sinned and broke Gods law, in fact, by spending time with them, it was like he was telling them that they didn’t have to!

          The Pharisees would see this and think, that’s not right, its not fair, we are spending all our time obeying the laws, and even more laws that we added as well, and Jesus is saying it doesn’t mean anything!

          Then we see last week, were Jesus seemingly responds to that view from the Pharisees. Jesus essentially says that, although your salvation is not dependent on it or affected by it, how you live absolutely matters.

          God is God. God is Ultimate. God is your Master. WE are slaves, servants, bondservants of God. WE are called to be the manager or steward of what he has given us.  You have done nothing to earn or receive what God has given you, and in fact, he has not quite given it to you, instead he has entrusted it to you. Its still Gods.

          And so, use those gifts, whether it be influence, power, money, testimony, spiritual gifts, or whatever, use those things to serve and to please God. All things in this world should be held with open hands and be handed over to God.

          What God says should have more authority over our lives than anything and everything.

          So, with that established, lets go ahead and read the aftermath of what Jesus taught last week, as we look at Luke chapter 16, verses 14-18. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation.

          The Holy spirit inspired Luke to record his Gospel as we pick up, Luke 16:14-18:

The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

16 “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.[e] 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.

18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.

 

Thus says the Word of God.

 

          Now the previous parable was told directly to the disciples, likely with the sinners and tax collectors right there to hear the message. And Jesus was telling them about how to follow and serve God.

          Now, the pharisees were hearing the teaching as well, obviously purposely by Jesus. Now, the Pharisees were Identified as lovers of money. They heard what Jesus was saying about not being able to serve both God and money.

          And the scriptures say that they ridiculed him, they derided him. The definition of the word is to turn up your nose, to sneer, to scoff at. That’s what the Pharisees did when they heard Jesus’s teachings that we looked at last week.

          Now, the question on all our minds, and I know Jim there has some things to say, but the question is why were they mocking/ What did the mocking consist of?

          What I mean, is, were they wondering, “Who is he talking about? Not us, of course! Must be the tax collectors. WE serve God. WE just happen to recognize what Jesus is missing, that us having money and power and so on is because we earned God’s Blessing.”

          One commentator imagines them saying, “Of course he is criticizing the rich! Poor people always do! Its jealousy!”

          The question comes down to, are they justifying their love for money? OR are they denying their love for money? Or are they dismissing Jesus’s teachings that love for money is wrong?

          The fact is that whatever the mindset or the motivation, this is what the world does when it does things like say that Jesus is simply a good teacher. O that he was a good moral example. When we throw empty compliments at God, we reject and mock his salvation plan just like the pharisees were doing with Jesus.

          So first, the Pharisees are saying that Jesus too lenient, and now we see them essentially saying that he is being too strict.

          Jesus responds to them; you can justify yourself all you want. You can deny all want. But God knows all. He sees through all of it. You can play the part. You can look the part. You can fool the audience, but you can’t fool the playwright.

          You can have men tricked into thinking that you are godly, that you are pious, that you are righteous. But at the core of everything, God knows who you are. He knows your heart. He knows your true identity, no matter the personality you portray. That is that we are sinners. That is our natural born identity before God, and one that only he can change in us.

          Jesus shows us that the things that men think are important, the things that make us high and mighty among this world, any human achievements. They are all dirty rags to God.

          This includes and is especially in regard to anything and everything NOT done to and for the Glory of God. As we ended last week, who is ultimate in your life and your decision making? You or God?

          Again, God sees all. Physical, emotional, spiritual. Jesus says that if its not done for and to God’s glory then it’s an abomination. OF course, that word is not really acceptable these days and to be fair, we tend to only use it for certain sins, in certain situations. Honestly, there have been times that we have used the word like a club.

          But we see what God’s word says, Sin is an abomination. All sin, as we see, but then especially some sins. Specifically, here, trusting in yourself instead of God, rejecting the Son, a self-righteous and rebellious heart, which we all have until God changes it, that is an Abomination unto God.

          In verse 16, Jesus tells them that the Law and Prophets lasted until the time of John the Baptist and ended with him. Starting with the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, we see that it is now time of the Gospel. John and Jesus ministries overlapped as both call on their hearers to repent, as the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

          And then we see this interesting phrase. “Everyone forces his way into it.” Honestly, no one seems to know what it means, but of course, people are not short on opinions and theories. An alternate translation, as noted in the footnotes of most translations is “Everyone is forcefully urged into it.”

          One theory is that this is referring to the same idea we looked at in Luke 13:24. Strive to enter through the narrow door. Strive, exert, make every effort, do everything you can to ensure that you are in the kingdom of heaven.

          Of course, this is not to say Do this in order to get in, but do this as the fruit that you are already in.

          Another common and popular idea about this phase is that it refers to the momentum of Christianity as it spread, starting with the time that Jesus was here, speaking, teaching, miracling and many followed him. He let the flood gates open as the Gospel was presented first to the Jews, then the Gentiles. And after his death and resurrection and ascension, the Apostles brought the Gospel to the ends of the known earth, starting with Pentecost when many were added to the church. This would culminate in the 4th century when Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the roman Empire.

          And Jesus tells them, just in case there is any misunderstanding, which we all know that there was on the Pharisees part. Just in case there was a misunderstanding, The law still matters.

          Now, how we mean that, how it applies is the key. WE are not under the Old Covenant, the covenant of the Law. We are under the New Covenant, covered under and sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ. We are not saved through obedience to and keeping the law, we are saved by grace through faith in Christ.

          But that cannot and does not mean that the law is abolished, that it doesn’t matter. And in fact, if you look at the teachings of Jesus, especially in the Sermon on the Mount, he lays down a much more restrictive view of the law, a more demanding view of it.

          Having sex with someone not your spouse is adultery. Jesus says, even lusting in your heart after someone is adultery, a sin. Murder is a sin. But Jesus says that hate in your heart means that you are guilty of murder. God knows the heart and the heart matters.

          The point is that Christianity is not a “Do whatever you want and its all-good cause Jesus!”  religion. The problem is that most people who see and agree with that, figure that it must be what they see is the opposite. We have to behave and obey in order to earn the blessings and favor of God.

          The truth is that the higher view we have ourselves, the more righteous we see ourselves, the lower we practically see, the less righteous we view the law and the commands of God.

          The truth is that grace is freely given, undeserved and cannot be earned or kept. The truth is that grace, through the Holy Spirit, brings about a change of heart. It’s the change of heart that changes everything and includes a growing over time desire to follow the law and commands that God has given us and to do them to the glory of God. Jesus tells his followers, if you love me, keep my commands. This is the key to it; You can not sin to the glory of God.

         

          Now, we come to verse 18, and once again, we ask, why is this one single line, this single verse stuck right here, seemingly in the middle of everything else, seemingly unconnected.

          WE have before and we will teach on divorce in other sections. And we could here, but I want to focus on the context. Why did Jesus say this here and now? This was one of the biggest ways that the Pharisees got the law, its intention and the application wrong.

          Gods law didn’t address enough for them, it didn’t anticipate every contingency, it didn’t adequately cover all the reasons that a husband especially could get fed up with his wife and should be able to divorce her. So, they made their own laws regarding it. They decided to do what was right in their own eyes.

          Jesus is using verse 18 to prove his point and give an example of verse 17. Jesus said elsewhere that the reasons God allowed any divorce at all was because of the hardness of their hearts. Scripture gives exceptions, but the Pharisees had created a lot of so-called legitimate reasons for divorce, including if the wife ruined a meal or if the husband found a woman prettier than his wife.

          Jesus points out to us that when our heart is bad, when we have a hard heart, we will cling to outward behavior with rebellious hearts, or we will throw behavior out altogether. Both are wrong. They can seem opposites at first glance, but they are really two sides of the same coin. The cure to both of them is the same. The grace filled Gospel.

          The Law was given to us by God to guide us. It was given to us to make us holy. It was given to us to convict us. And it was given to us to reflect the very person and character of God.

          Right and wrong still matter.

          Right and wrong are still determined by the Law.

          Right and wrong are still determined by the Word of God.

          Salvation is still determined solely by God’s grace.

          Sanctification and maturing are determined by God’s grace

          Sanctification and maturing are determined by our continued and growing obedience to the Law.

          Sanctification and maturing are determined by the work of the Holy Spirit inside of us.
          Sanctification and maturing are determined by spiritual disciplines.

          In any real and practical sense, in real world application, there is no way that you can divorce the Law from the Gospel. They don’t and were never intended to serve the same purpose, so you can’t compare them as apples to apples, but instead are more like peanut butter and jelly, or any other two complimentary foods you want to use in the comparison.

          Jesus spends much of his time teaching actually interpreting and clarifying the Old Testament. He, being the Word incarnate, is the one who gets to determine and tell us what the Scriptures mean. But that’s getting into next weeks passage too.

         

          The fact is, God knows the heart. He knows your heart. Even if you think or portray obedience to the Word, if your heart says different, God says you are wrong.

You can say you use money to serve God, but God knows better.

          You can say you don’t seek the approval of this world, but God knows better.

          You can say you know that you are saved by faith in Christ alone, but God sees you trying to earn it and keep by your works.

          God knows.

          God sees.

          You don’t get into the kingdom of God by following the law, because nobody can, except Jesus who did. You get in by God’s grace gifting you repentance and faith in Christ. You show you are in by following the law, and more importantly and more accurately, wanting in your heart to follow the law.

 

Let’s pray

         

Luke 15:11-32 Jesus is the Son of Man The Prodigal Son

Luke 15:11-32

Jesus is the Son of Man

The Prodigal Son

(Note: It has come to my attention that my sermon posts from Nov ’21 through the begining of Feb ’22 have been lost. So i will be reposting them here, meaning they wont necessarily be in the order they were preached and recorded. THank you for your understanding)

 

All right! Turn with me in your Bibles, if you will, to Luke chapter 15. As I say every week, if you do not have a Bible or if you need a Bible, please see me after the service and we can help get one into your hands.

Well, last week, we introduced the setting of this passage. Tax collectors and sinners were gathering around Jesus, drawn to him, wanting to hear his teaching and to be on the receiving end of his grace. And as they saw this, the Scribes and Pharisees grumbled about it.

Whether they recognized it or not, they were grumbling at Gods grace. We see what had been happening in Jesus’ ministry. Sinners were welcomed. People were getting healed on the Sabbath. Jesus is claiming the power to forgive sins. Heaven was open to those who would repent and submit themselves to God. But those who think they had no need to repent, those who were self-righteous, they would not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

“That’s not fair! I did everything right! Why does HE get to get in!” That’s the mindset that Jesus is addressing in these three parables that he tells here. The first two we looked at last week, the lost coin and the lost sheep. And Jesus point was we don’t save us. We don’t even help Jesus save us. Jesus chooses to save us and its all grace, no merit involved at all.

The third parable is the one we will look at this morning as well, the parable of the prodigal Son. Again, Jesus showing that the themes of grace are at complete odds with self-righteousness and pride.

Let’s go ahead and read the passage, Luke chapter 15, verses 11 through 32. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. Luke 15:11-32, The Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record the Words of Jesus:

 

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to[b] one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[c] 22 But the father said to his servants,[d] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

 

Thus says the Word of God.

This is one of those well know Bible stories that we have been talking about. We think we know what the story is and what the story is telling us, and we do, partly, mostly, sort of. There are many lessons that we can learn from the prodigal son, the character of the son himself. And that who we tend to focus on. We can learn lessons from the how he deals with his father, his attitude, his heart, how he lives apart from his family and from God. So many of those lessons are right and good lessons, but not a single one of them are ultimately the point of this story.

We start out seeing that this man, this older man, had two sons. And in those days, in that society, using this example of two sons, when the dad dies, each son gets a portion of the dad’s estate, property, animals, etc. The older son, the first born would get a double share. This means that he would get 66% and the younger son would get 33%.

Now, in this case, the son doesn’t want to wait for his dad to die in order to get his share. So, he goes to the dad and says, “Give me my share of your estate now.”

Now we don’t know the exact thoughts going through the sons’ head at that moment. He could have been thinking “Why should I continue working in this apparent dead-end job? I’m not the one who is going to get it.” OR he could have been thinking, “This is too stifling, I have to be true to who I am and follow my bliss, follow my heart and my dreams.” The result is the same, not willing to step up and take responsibility for his life, his work or anything else.

So, he goes to the father and says, Give me what’s my mine! Now, this was not exactly unheard of, but it was pretty close. At the least in was incredibly uncouth for the son to do this. And the father did it. He separated his estate in two sections, 1/3 and 2/3s. He gave his youngest son his third of the inheritance and as one commentator said, and I know a lot of you can identify with this, “the father allowed him to make his own choice to go his own way.” As a parent, especially as the kids get older, that’s the only thing we can do. They need to live their life and unfortunately, make their own mistakes and bad decisions.

Verse 13 indicates that someone liquidated the inheritance. Either the father to make the division cleaner or the son so he could just get going and whoop it up. Either way the son took of a long way away, away from the eyes of family and people that would have known him. He goes far away, like leaving here and headed to Redding or Sacramento or even San Francisco. And he proceeds to spend his money foolishly. He squandered it with reckless living.

Sometimes we see in the Bible, things can be overstated, over emphasis used, telling us to go through the eye of a needle in order to make the point how hard it is to save ourselves. (Spoiler; its literally, physically impossible.)

But I think that here we are seeing the opposite. I think we are seeing some very serious understatement here. The son squandered his money in reckless living. It reads to me like those lottery winners that we all see the stories for. Winning millions and hundreds of millions of dollars and being bankrupt within just a few years.

Just in case things are unclear, especially with the ultimate point of these three parables we are looking at last week and this week, our decisions absolutely have consequences. Just because we cannot save or help save ourselves, that it is 100% God in every way shape and form, just because he is sovereign and predestined all things and controls all things from the grand universe to the tiniest of Atoms, and decrees all things, does not mean that we are puppets, that our decisions don’t matter. We make our decisions day by day, moment by moment how we live, how we act, how we respond to what’s going on around us and inside of us.

And this younger son, he made his decisions. He was willfully defiant. He was a lost cause who wanted to be lost. And he lost all his money. He spent it all. It was all gone. He had nothing. And then, after he had lost all his money, a famine hit hard. So, he had no food. Not things were tight. Not he had to go to the local food pantry. He had no food.

And so, he did the only thing he was able to do. He, a Jewish man, hired himself out to a gentile pig farmer. The pig, of course, being the symbol, the epitome of unclean animals. IT seemed like the lowest of lows.

His self-made circumstances, no money, no food, combined with Gods sovereign circumstances, the famine and so on, both combined to bring this main to what seemed like it was the lowest point that the man could ever get to.

He sacrificed his dignity. He sacrificed his respect. He sacrificed his religious convictions. And then it got so bad, that he was looking at the slop he was feeding the pigs and was jealous of how well they were eating. He wanted to eat as well as them, which was not well, make no mistake.

 

And then, what could be said next in the text, what is true and based on the context of the parables, I believe is implied, is “But God…”

The text says that he came to himself. He “came to” as if awakening from a spiritual coma. He woke up as “awoken from God, by the Power of the Holy Spirit.” He was at his lowest point, but God wouldn’t let him stay there. God brought him to his senses.

He thought, I remember the people that worked for my dad. I remember the servants. Even the servants! And they were eating good! They got everything they needed and more. I will go back to my dad; I will repent, and I will beg his forgiveness.

I will tell him, I’m not worthy to be forgiven. I’m not worthy to be called your son. I’m not worthy to be even a lowly servant. I have sinned against you and heaven. I can imagine God bringing a little piece if the scriptures to his mind and heart at that moment, maybe PS 51:4 where David says that all sin is against God.

So, he gets up and starts making his way back to his father’s home. But before he gets there, we see something else. We see that the father, since the son has been gone, he has been actively looking, actively searching for him, actively waiting for him to come back home.

He saw his son while he was still a far way off, just as God sees us when we are still spiritually a far way off. The father saw his son in the distance and ran to him. He embraced him, and grabbed hold of him, again, just as God does to us, to every sinner who repents.

As we established last week at the end, we are loved and received by God before we ever make that decision to repent and trust in him. The son hadn’t even gotten there and hadn’t even said anything, but the father already loved him and received him back.  We always have a home with God if and when we are willing to repent and turn ourselves our to his grace and mercy.

The son, of course, started to recite his spiel that he had rehearsed. But his father wouldn’t have any of it. He sent for his best robe, for a ring, and some shoes. The son didn’t even have any shoes… But he was reconciled back and welcomed back a s a full member of the family.  He was welcomed, he was loved, and he was forgiven by the father. He was also rejoiced over.

The father tells his servants, go prepare the fattened calf for a partay! And to be clear, just in case it needs to be said, the party and the celebration, were in thanksgiving to God, not a godless, self-indulgence party. Just as verses 7 & 10 tell us that there is much rejoicing in Heaven over a sinner who repents.

The son was dead, now he is alive again! Just as Adam sinned and brought spiritual death to the human condition, so too did Jesus, the Second Adam, makes us spiritually alive, bringing us a new heart and a new spirit through the Holy Spirit.

We then are born again. Was dead, now alive. Was lost, now found. Time to celebrate.

 

 

But not everyone was happy.

 

The older son, remember him? He was out in the field working, as he always was. He was dutiful, he was responsible, he was hardworking. He heard the singing and dancing and asked what was going on. What’s the big hullaballoo?

“Your brother is back, and your dad is throwing a party because he is all the way back! He is safe and sound and back a part of the family!”

 

Well, make no mistake, the brother was angry! Just like the Pharisees grumbling about the tax collectors and sinners. The brother wouldn’t take part in the celebration. He couldn’t bring himself to be happy for the brother. The Father came out and tried to bring him in to join. Tried to get him to be happy for his father and his brother.

The brother lashed out: “It’s not fair! He left. He hurt my father. He squandered his opportunity. Not me! I never left. I have been loyal and steadfast. I followed the rules. I have been responsible.” “It’s not fair! You never threw me a party. You never slaughtered the fattened calf for me!”

But the fathers love and forgiveness were great and unconditional. He was brought back in the fold like nothing ever happened.

Now, when we look at application of some of these parables, one of the biggest things we need to remember is that we are not Jesus. We can’t and shouldn’t automatically do the exact and complete things that Jesus does in these stories.

Is this story an example of how we should always run a business? No.

Is this an example of how we should, without exception, run our family and personal relationships? No.

There are times and places to draw lines. There are times to remember that we are called to forgive, but not forget. There are times to reward loyalty and dedication and steadfastness.

 

But that’s not how God’s grace works in relation to salvation. God’s grace is scandalous. It is undeserved. It is unfair from the world’s perspective.

It reminds me of the parable of the workers in Matthew 20. In Sinclair Fergusons book, The Whole Christ, he talks about this parable and the scandalous Ness of God’s grace. He points out that its not until the workers who showed up early and worked all day long, not until they saw the workers at the end of the day get the same pay, they did, it was only then that they got upset. It was Gods grace that revealed hidden legalism in their hearts.

That mindset, “I deserve it! Especially because they didn’t deserve it and they got it. So, I should especially get it because I deserve it.” This subtle form of Legalism is heading in all of our hearts.

We see in verses 30 that the older brother won’t even calls him his brother, he just spits it out in disgust, “That son of yours…”

The Father responds, the grace I show him has nothing to do with you. It doesn’t affect you one bit. It doesn’t take away anything from you. Other people being saved doesn’t take away anything from your salvation. Them receiving grace does not take away from grace you already received.

We see in this part of the story that Jesus is still and will continue to call the Pharisees to repent and join him in the kingdom of Heaven. The offer never stops being presented. The plea never stops being made.

The father tells the older brother, it is right and proper to rejoice. It is right and proper to rejoice over your brother coming back home. It is right and proper to rejoice in each and every one of us who was lost and is now found. Each and every one of us who was dead and is now alive.

The father is telling the son, I believe, that if you repent and come to me, we will rejoice for you as well. For then you will have been brought from spiritual death to spiritual life and will be brought home.

God often will bring us through the far country in order to wake us up and bring us home. And we see this, and we see How Great the fathers love for us. That we will always be welcome home. That he will never stop actively looking for us, searching for us and waiting for us.

We also need to remember that as often as we put ourselves in the younger brothers’ shoes, more often Id says, we are actually in the older brothers’ shoes. God, I’m doing this work for you. I’m loving you and serving you and being loyal and steadfast. Why don’t I get more grace, more mercy, more whatever?

That heart of ours is an idol factory and that is one of them. That’s one of the reasons that Jesus tells us we need to remember. He is constantly reminding us of his grace and mercy and that it is freely given, as Mike read this morning, so that no man may boast.

And so, we remember. Constantly, regularly. We do it every first Sunday of the month. We remember and we know that we are in his hands because we have responded by faith to his death on cross and resurrection. God grace poured out on those covered with his blood, the blood of the lamb, come to take away the sins of the world. He instead he spares us from the wrath of God.

He condescended from Heaven, still God, was born a man, a human baby and lived the perfect, sinless life that we needed to and were unable to live. HE paid the penalty, paid the wages for our sins so that we could be reconciled to God. He paid that penalty with his life. In an act of pure, perfect love, Romans 5:8 says:  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Before he did this, Jesus told us to remember this and to celebrate it as often as we get together. We do this in a monthly basis, we celebrate communion as a church family.

We remember and we follow the commands of Jesus that he gave his disciples during the Last Supper.

Luke’s Gospel records the Last Supper, and he writes of Jesus telling his disciples in chapter 22, verses 19& 20: He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying: “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after super, he took the cup, saying, “This is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” 

We do this in remembrance of Him. Paul speaks about communion in 1 Corinthians 11 and before we get into it, I have one thing to share that Paul tells us, first, communion is for believers. It is in remembrance for what he has done for us. It is us obey his commands by our faith in him. Communion itself does not save. It does not forgive sins; it does not impart righteousness or cleanse your soul. If you are not a follower of Christ, we just ask that you pass the elements along and then, if you have any questions or want to take that step, you can talk to myself or one of the deacons after the service.

 

Now, we are going to do things a little bit different this morning, due to taking some precautions. We have individual cups that contains both the wafers, which symbolize Jesus’ broken body on the cross. His Death that pays the penalty for our sins. It also contains the juice, symbolizing the shed blood of Christ, which purchases our eternal life in Christ, through faith.

First, we will take the wafer together. Afterwards, we will take the juice together and we will be united together under the cross and blood of Jesus Christ. I will pray and we will come to the LORDs table.

 

Luke 15:1-10 Jesus is the Son of Man Lost, Then Found Pt 1

Luke 15:1-10

Jesus is the Son of Man

Lost, Then Found Pt 1

(Note: It has come to my attention that my sermon posts from Nov ’21 through the begining of Feb ’22 have been lost. So i will be reposting them here, meaning they wont necessarily be in the order they were preached and recorded. THank you for your understanding)

All right, please turn with me in your Bibles to Luke chapter 15. As I try to encourage you every week, if you do not have a Bible or you are in need of a Bible, please see me after the service and we will work on getting one into your hands.

So, we are continuing our series through the Gospel of Luke, starting on chapter 15. Now, as we have been going through the teachings of Jesus, if we are not looking at context, a number of the last few passages could seem heavy, burdensome, or overly confusing.

The message, one of the points that Jesus is making is that not all who think they are going to Heaven, will actually go to Heaven. This could be misunderstood as us not being able to be assured of our salvation, how can you really know?

Well, Jesus answers that question and one of the answers is through the fruit that is produced in discipleship. He tells those listening to him that there is a cost to discipleship. This can be misunderstood as legalism, that our works are at least a part of what makes us righteous, that we work to either earn or to keep our salvation, which is also called legalism.

Jesus is teaching against and fighting against the self-righteous and the religious establishment and their misunderstanding if the purpose and application of the law. This can lead to the misunderstanding the law and our lives don’t matter, that we can live however we want, and it doesn’t matter. This wrong thinking is called Antinomianism.

And so here, at the beginning of Luke chapter 15, Jesus is going to tell 1 parable, one point, one truth in three different ways, almost seeming that they are three different parables. WE are going to look at the first two this week, and the third next week.

So, let’s go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 15, verses 1-10. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, though I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation.

Luke, inspired by the Holy spirit, records the ministry and words of Jesus Christ. Luke 15:1-10:

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins,[a] if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

 

 

          May God Bless the Reading of His Holy Word.

 

 

So, Jesus has been gathering crowds that have been flocking to him and following him, we saw that last week as well. Then, we looked at a few of the specific groups who were following him. This week, we specifically see that sinners and tax collectors are gathering and following him. People are drawn to him like a moth to a flame. Often, they don’t even know why. But there is something about Jesus. Those that need him, when they see him, when they encounter him, they go to him.

And yet, it is interesting, RC Sproul writes: Isn’t it interesting how Jesus drew sinners to himself? Yet sinners tend to flee from us. (Speaking of Christians and the church in general) He continues I wonder what they saw in him that they don’t see in us. Sometimes we think that God has appointed us not to be vessels of Grace but to be the Policemen of the world. But Jesus somehow was approachable by the sinner. They flocked to Him to Hear Him.

 

          Now, that could be one of the reasons we see what happens here. Perhaps, or maybe more certainly than perhaps), the Pharisees saw themselves as God’s policemen of the world. There was no grace. And the people didn’t want to be around them. But Jesus they flocked to. Interestingly, what the Pharisees couldn’t see, is that Jesus was actually teaching and preaching a more demanding morality that they were, easiest seen in the Sermon on the Mount. But because of them flocking to Jesus and not the pharisees, they could have been hurt and perturbed and jealous of Jesus.

So, of course, we see them grumbling about the situation, asking Why is He spending time with them? To them, Him doing so was affirming their sinful lifestyle.

Now, there are some biblical principles at play here that have to be acknowledged and balanced. Namely I think of 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul says that Bad company corrupts good morals. We do have to be careful with who we let influence us and influence our beliefs, our values, our morals and our behavior. But we are not called to be locked away from the world, using our church as a bunker in the culture war around us.

This is another warning and example that shows that we can take a good, right, biblical principle and take it to an unloving, unmerciful, graceless, sinful extreme. The scribes and the Pharisees used this principal to dismiss the dignity and worth and the humanity of those summed up here as sinners and tax collectors.

Instead of compassion and Evangelism, they dismissed them. They ignored them. They condemned them. And not only them, but anyone who would speak with them. Anyone who would dine with them. Anyone who would “hang out” with them. Namely Jesus and (hopefully us today) the message is “Don’t spend time with that type of person,” as if their sin is contagious. And it does take wisdom and discernment to know when and how to spend time with certain people and when and how not to spend time with certain people.

And yes, they believed that God would welcome repentant sinners, but the person had to first repent, change their ways and then they might be worthy to seek and approach God. This is the mindset that Jesus would demolish here with these parables and the one we will look at next week.  Jesus says, let me tell you something about those sinners…

 

We see today that he tells the story of the lost sheep and the story of the lost coin. Now, the cultural assumption is that the point of the story and the lesson of the story is that Jesus loves you. Jesus will leave everything for you. You, you, you…

You are not the point of these stories. Yes, Jesus does love you. Yes, he loved you enough to leave heaven and to give up his life for you. Those are correct sentences, IM not saying those are incorrect. But they are not the point of these parables this morning.

So, we look at who this story is being told to. IT is not being told to the lost sheep and the lost coin. Its being told to the others. Its being told to the scribes and pharisees. The point of these parables is two groups. The group hearing it, as we just identified. And the Shepard who went out and saved the one, the woman who searched for and found the coin. Its about Jesus.

 

Jesus is the savior. He is Our Savior. He is the savior of all whom the Father has given to him. He often wrongly describes Jesus as a Savior who wants to save but can’t or won’t. That he is dependent on us. That he is powerless unless we allow him to save us. But that is completely unbiblical. The fact of the matter is that if Jesus wants you saved, if he has determined you will be saved. You will in fact, be saved.

This is the doctrine that is sometimes called Irresistible Grace. Got Questions.org defines it this way:

Simply put, the doctrine of irresistible grace refers to the biblical truth that whatever God decrees to happen will inevitably come to pass, even in the salvation of individuals. The Holy Spirit will work in the lives of the elect so that they inevitably will come to faith in Christ. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit never fails to bring to salvation those sinners whom He personally calls to Christ (John 6:37-40).

 

We know that we are saved by faith. Among other places, we see this in Ephesians chapter 2. But, as is human nature, our tendency is to say that we are responsible for our faith. We boast in our faith. We take credit for our salvation by taking credit for our faith. And so, Ephesians also tells us that the very faith that saves us is itself a gift of God.

The fact is that Jesus will not give up until the job is done. He says later on in Luke’s Gospel that He came to seek and save those who are lost. He is actively seeking those who are lost. Those he came to save. An analogy he uses elsewhere, he comes after those who are sick, not chasing after those who are well.

Romans tells us that no one in and of themselves seeks after God. Instead, we actively suppress the truth. And so, we can’t come to Christ without him going out and bringing us to himself. The Shepard lays the lost sheep on his shoulders and brings him back into the fold.

The sheep here was unable to return on his own or by his own power.  Ands so the Shepard carries him where and when he is unable to go himself. Isaiah 53:6, God says:

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;

 

In the hymn, Come Thou Fount, we see in one verse, the hymn writer writes:

Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He to rescue me from danger
Interposed his precious blood

 

And then in the very next verse:

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, oh take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above

 

We are sheep and we wonder all places except into the loving arms of Jesus, our Good Shepard. We read this morning in Ezekiel 34, verses 11-16. I want to read it again, after what we have already looked at.

“For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy.[a] I will feed them in justice.

 

          Look at that, listen to that. Who is the one taking care of the sheep, not themselves? Who is the one protecting them when they are in danger, feeding them when they are Hungry, who will gather them and make them lie down in green pastures? God says, I…I…I…I…I… 15 times right there, God says, I.

He loves us and is willing to do this for us. Not because we are lovable. Not because we are worthy of it. Not because we could ever repay him. But because of Himself. His goodness. His Love. His Glory.

We see at the end of both of these parables, Jesus rejoices in finding us. He rejoices in our salvation. He is our righteousness. He is our justification. He is the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the World.

Romans 5 tells us exactly who Jesus is and who we are in comparison. Romans 5:6-11:

  For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

 

And so, when I say this story, this passage is not about you, that is not to take anything away from Gods love for us, his willingness to do what it took to save us. Indeed, its to magnify it. Because it is God, through the Son Jesus Christ, for Gods Glory, through Gods perfect love came down and fulfilled the law, fulfilled the Old Covenant and then paid our penalty for the breaking of that covenant. He died the death that we were justly supposed to die He rose from the dead, so that we too could be resurrected and one day, ascend into heaven to receive our glorified bodies and spend eternity with Him, rejoicing and worshipping in Him and through and at him.

God rejoices in our salvation and our repentance. He rejoices over Jesus seeking and saving us, even when we don’t want to be found, or think we already were found.  There is more joy in heaven over one who was lost and is now saved, who have believed the Gospel and repented of their sins, than for 99 who think they are righteous and have no need to repent.

Jesus continues and tells the story of the lost coin. Same purpose, same point, same Hero, and same rejoicing. The coin that is lost cannot will itself to be found. It cannot seek or search for the woman looking for it. Instead, the woman actively and diligently seeks this coin. And there is great rejoicing and partying when a coin that was lost is now found.

Again, we can not repent in and of ourselves. WE can be sorry. We can feel guilty. We can be remorseful. But we cannot repent, not without the Holy Spirit’s work inside of us, in our heart and in our spirit.

God seeks us, not the other way around. God loves us and he does so perfectly, with his perfect love. But even his loving us and saving us is ultimately and primarily done to bring glory to himself. Soli Deo Gloria, To the Glory of God Alone. One of the Five Solas of the Reformation.

I am reminded, I know, I’m reminded of it often, but in this passage, and this message, I am reminded of the Jonathon Edwards quote: The Only thing we contribute to our salvation is the sin that makes it necessary.

The scribes and the Pharisees in this passage, it can be hard to see, but they are us BEFORE God intervenes. And this should remind us again, about how we should treat others. That just as you and I are valuable in Gods eyes, so are all sheep and coins (and people if that wasn’t clear) valuable in Gods eyes.

And just as they can’t, nor could we go back and look for the Shepard. Instead, the Shepard seeks us out, he picks us up and carries us to eternal safety. Just as they can’t, and we couldn’t look for the woman who lost us. It is the woman (Not that Jesus is a woman) that lights up the room and diligently seeks after us.

And when we are found, through no work of our own, through nothing to boast in other than the work, and life and cross of Christ, there is much rejoicing in Heaven as a soul is adopted into the Kingdom.

We are going to end in a moment with Amazing Grace and I just encourage you, even if it means not singing, see the words that were written. Hear the words that are being sung. Feel the truth that Gods grace is amazing to save us wretches, Once lost, now found, once blind, now seeing, all through, because of and for the Glory of God. Amen

Let’s Pray.

Luke 14:12-24 Jesus is the Son of Man Dinner Party in Heaven

Luke 14:12-24

Jesus is the Son of Man

Dinner Party in Heaven

(Note: It has come to my attention that my sermon posts from Nov ’21 through the begining of Feb ’22 have been lost. So i will be reposting them here, meaning they wont necessarily be in the order they were preached and recorded. THank you for your understanding)

All right! Let’s go ahead and turn with me in our Bibles to Luke chapter 14. As I always try to say, if you don’t have a Bible or you need a Bible, please see me after the service.

SO, in some ways, this morning’s passage is a part two to last weeks. Same setting, same audience, same parable subject even. Jesus is at a dinner party at the home of one of the rulers of the Pharisees.

We have already seen some conflict arise due to Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath and calling the Pharisees on their hypocrisy regarding biblical rules and traditional rules. He points out that the underlying issue is the need for them to see others outside their small little circle as also having dignity and being worthy of respect. He also points out their hypocrisy in wanting to be seen as greater than, as better than those around them.

Jesus tells them to treat others as better than themselves. He reminds them that the first will be last and the last will be first. Not everyone who thinks they are in Christ actually are. The truth is that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ. Not works, not morals, and not their Jewishness.  When we get to Heaven, we will be surprised at who we see and who we don’t see. The key to remember is verse 11, where Jesus tells them, and us, that they exalted will be humbled and the humbled will be exalted.

So, let’s go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 14, verses 12 through 24. As always, Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. Luke 14:12-24, Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit records this parable by Jesus:

 

He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers[b] or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant[c] to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you,[d] none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”

 

 

May God Bless the Reading of His Holy Word.

 

 

So, we see that Jesus is still talking to those who were at the dinner party, and he continues to drive the points home, sharing uncomfortable truths with them. And Jesus both uses the setting, of this dinner party, and the imagery that the Old Testament uses of the wedding banquets and wedding feasts as a symbol of that eternal glory in Heaven that we get to share in with God.

Isaiah 25:6-9:

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
    He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

 

And so, Jesus continues to use the wedding feast as the setting of the points he is making to this group. First big point he makes, don’t do the things you do in order to receive back. Its great to have dinner and spend time with friends and family, and sometimes its at their house and sometimes its at your house and you take turns and that’s fine. But don’t only ever invite those who can repay that invitation. Don’t only be generous with those who can be generous back.

This is the same principal we see in Luke 6, verses 32-36:

“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

 

Jesus contrasts that with love those who persecute you and pray for your enemies.

So instead of only inviting those who can invite you back and repay your generosity with their own, be generous with and invite those who can’t repay you.  This is another, specific and practical way of recognizing peoples worth and dignity as image bearers of God.

Jesus himself is a great example of this. He was the epitome of generosity and love to us. He died on the cross, paid the penalty for sin that we owed, and we couldn’t pay. He did for us that we couldn’t do for ourselves. And he didn’t do it with us able to repay him. We can’t, of course, ever come close to repaying him. We can’t even stay debt free after he has already paid it. WE continue to accrue more and more, but Jesus has paid it all, with no expectation of repayment.

This is the true fruit of the spirit. This is true love, generosity, true mercy, true respect. As opposed to the pharisees and their hypocritical, “Don’t cost me anything,” show others how great I am, false, pretend fruit.

 

 

Now, at this point, Jesus had laid some pretty harsh lessons on them. It seems like he probably left the room in shocked silence. They were all insulted and worse, it was all true. So, what were they going to say?

But there is always that one guy, or gal, but there is always that one guy who will speak up and break the awkward silence. And we see that here. One guy breaks the silence, intending to lighten the mood and he shouts out, Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!

Amen! Right? That’s easy to agree with. And I can understand what this guy was doing. IT was uncomfortable. Jesus just said, “Take care of the poor,” and “Quit being hypocrites.” So, Let’s say something that everyone can agree with.

 

Yeah Heaven!

I don’t know anyone who would disagree with that statement, right? And what this guy said was technically right and true and accurate. But especially in the context of what Jesus has been preaching and teaching, it didn’t actually mean anything, especially what the people would have heard when he said it.

Cause we have two opposite ways to take this, and both are wrong. The Jewish leaders thought that they didn’t need to do anything, and they were guaranteed a spot at the Banquet table in Heaven. They were Jewish and they were righteous, and they were the ones that would be seated at that table.

The other side is summed up in the movie Ratatouille, where the one character mentions his mom died, the other guy shares (obviously insincere) condolences. The first guy says “That’s ok, she believed in Heaven, so she’s good, you know, afterlife wise…”

 

Jesus uses this statement as a jumping off point to share more uncomfortable truths. The main point being Not all who think they will eat bread in the kingdom will actually dine at the banquet table.

 

This point is obviously a big one and it must be important. The way Luke’s Gospel is laid out, we keep seeing Jesus make this point over and over again. Obviously, it keeps coming up because the people Jesus is talking to don’t get it, despite the constant repetition. Just like us so often, we read the same thing in the Bible, we hear Biblical truths over and over again, and sometimes, we just don’t get it. It doesn’t sink in. Or we keep forgetting after we learn it again and again.

So, Jesus shares this parable regarding the Kingdom of God and who will be there.

 

So, this man was holding a great banquet, a wedding feast. And he sent out invitations to those whom he wanted to attend. The banquet was, at first, only revealed to these. And the way that parties and invitations took place in those days, we know that each and everyone of these accepted the invitation. The way it worked back then, was that two invitations were sent. First, what we see first here, invitations sent out, basically a Save the Date thing. It would confirm the amount of people who would be there so the host knew how many animals to slaughter and prepare for. When you responded to this invitation, it was a commitment.

Now, when the time came, when the day arrived for the actual party, the host sent out his servants with the second invitation, essentially, ok, here’s what time to show up for the party you previously committed to.

God originally shared the knowledge of salvation with the nation of Israel, with the Jewish people. And they responded. They wanted to go to heaven. The believed in God and wanted to follow his commands and they wanted to do good enough, be righteousness enough. God sent his messengers to share the news about the party.

And now, Jesus was here, saying, the time has come, the Kingdom of God is here. The time is now. The day of salvation is today.

 

The people said they would attend. But now, when the time has come to actually do it, when it was time to put words into action, they refused. They all had excuses as to why they couldn’t come.

Nobody in that culture would have ever refused that second invite. It would have been beyond rude. It would have been an incredible insult. Sorry, I know I committed, but I’ve got more important things to do. And we see the three examples that Jesus gives here are possessions, work and family. These are all things that we still struggle with putting ahead of God.

The end result, Jesus shows us, is that those who declined the invitation will not be allowed in so sit at the banquet table. The prophets were the original invitees from God and now Jesus was here, saying now is the time. He makes it clear, if you reject the Son, you reject the Father. So, it doesn’t matter how religious the Pharisees were, no matter how much they follow the rules, if they reject the invitation, come up with excuses why not, then you don’t get to go.

And we end up seeing the host says, No. It doesn’t matter, those who gave excuses, will not be allowed to attend. And we might think that’s not fair, they might change their minds, or whatever, but the truth is, looking at human nature, those who gave excuses and didn’t not want to attend are banned from the banquet, are banned because that’s what they willingly choose.

Now, we remember that with parables, not every single detail parallels and translates. Instead, we are to focus on the main point and how it shows us truth. In that, we know that the invitation for salvation was not only intended for the Old Testament Jews and God got angry when they rejected Jesus and so hurriedly came up with a plan B.

Instead, we know that the invitation, while only revealed to them at first, was always and always intended to be open to all who would respond favorably to the invitation, and they are the ones who will be seated at the banquet table.

In the parable, we see that the master sends his servants out to invite more people to the banquet. Instead of the higher crust, popular, influential and important crowd, Now is inviting the lower people in society, the “unworthy.”  The invitation was sent to the poor, the crippled, the lame. It was the ones who couldn’t pay the host back for the invitation and the banquet. And then the invitation as sent out to those on the hedges and the highways. This would be God opening up and making the invitation of salvation known to the gentiles as well.

I love how RC Sproul sums up this section, Writing:

Here you can sense Jesus’ meaning: “GO over the borders of Israel. Go to the Gentiles. Go to those people who are no people and let them now be known as My People.” To you and Me, the invitation is now Given.

The love, the generosity, the invitation is offered by God to all who may believe. IT is through his grace alone that this invitation is given. And the acceptance of this invitation is through faith alone.

But not just any faith. Not “I believe in Heaven, so I’m good,” faith. Not “It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you believe,” faith. You can sincerely believe something and be sincerely wrong. Instead, God is looking for a saving faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.

So, we want to attend this banquet, we want to receive salvation, so we look at the bible and what it says. Repent and believe. Respond by and in faith. Trust and obey. Believe and be baptized.

John 3:16-21:

“For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

 

What we see here today is how important it is to have our priorities straight. We see the excuses that the invitees gave. Possessions, Work and Family. Things that are good things, in and of themselves. But when they get in the way of us serving and following God, they have then turned into idols.

Warren Weirsbe says that if good things keep you from enjoying the best things, they turn into bad things. And so, we focus on what our priorities are.

Work? Out of the Kingdom

Possessions? Out of the Kingdom

Family? Out of the Kingdom

 

God? Welcome to the Kingdom! Sit at the banquet table and eat! Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”

 

Let’s Pray

Luke 14:1-11 Jesus is the Son of Man How we treat (and see) others

Luke 14:1-11

Jesus is the Son of Man

How we treat (and see) others

 

(Note: It has come to my attention that my sermon posts from Nov ’21 through the begining of Feb ’22 have been lost. So i will be reposting them here, meaning they wont necessarily be in the order they were preached and recorded. THank you for your understanding)

All right! Turn with me, if you will, to Luke chapter 14. As I continue to say, just in case; If you do not have a Bible, or if you are in need of a Bible, please see me after the service and we can work on getting one into your hands.

SO, in our narrative of Luke’s Gospel, we see Jesus continuing to travel around, preaching, teaching, performing miracles, showing those who are willing to see that He is the Messiah, the Christ.

He has left Galilee, where he was in the passage, we looked at last week. And what we saw and will continue to see is that Herod last week and many of the pharisees, many other righteous religious folks in Israel at the time, they didn’t like the teaching and the preaching that Jesus was communicating. They didn’t like who he chose to heal or when he chose to do so. It didn’t fit with what they expected and understood from the law and tradition of the Jewish faith of the time.

They thought they knew better. They thought they new it all. They thought that they were better. Jesus’s message was that they were wrong, and they were not better than anyone. And as I mentioned last week, we, as a people, generally do not like being told we are wrong.

So, we are going to spend this week and next at the home of one of the rulers of the Pharisees, at what appears to be a dinner party. And we are going to see Jesus being smart and crafty and sharing hard truths.

So, without further ado, lets go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 14, verses 1 through 11. As usual, I will be reading out of the English Standard Version, and I encourage you to grab your preferred translation and follow along as we read the word of God.

Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, records:

One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away. And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son[a] or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” And they could not reply to these things.

Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

 

 

May God Bless the Reading of His Word.

 

So, we start by seeing that trigger word, that word that keys us into an upcoming friction between the Pharisees and Jesus. We see this word, when it’s used in the Gospels, brings us Jesus correcting a lack of understanding, or in this case, I believe, a lack of consistent logic in their thinking. That word, of course, being Sabbath.

On this one Sabbath, Jesus goes to the home of one of the area’s prominent Pharisees and is getting ready have a meal with them. Jesus was always willing to sit with whomever he had the chance in order to share the truth regarding the Kingdom of God. And in this case, he knew he was going to get just such and opportunity.

But first…

But first, we see the pharisees watching him closely. They were watching to see if He was going to do something that they thought he shouldn’t be doing. Maybe they even set this scene up. Or maybe not… But it sure seems like they did…

There just happened to appear before Jesus a man with a brutal, painful disease. This man had a disease called dropsy. This was where fluid would collect in the cavities of the body and would have eventually led to death. This is only mentioned in the New Testament in this one place.

Jesus sees this man and instead of addressing him or healing him right away, he turns and addresses the Pharisees, the guests that were there. And this is part of what makes it look to me like this was a setup by the Pharisees and that Jesus knew exactly what was going on.

He asks them, “IS it lawful to Heal on the Sabbath or not?” A simple Yes or No question. A simple, question that they could not answer. Because they truth was that it was not against the Mosaic Law in the scriptures. God did not say it was against the law to heal on the Sabbath. However, the laws and traditions of the elders that had been passed down for generations, said that medical treatment was prohibited on the Sabbath unless the condition was life threatening.

So, they had no actual way to answer this question. I see them like I see our kids, and I know you all know what I’m talking about.  When you catch them doing something and you ask them about, but they have no answer, so they don’t answer. They just stay quit, often just kind of looking at the ground or something… That’s how I picture the Pharisees here as Jesus asks them this question.

They had no answer. It was not “against the law,” It was against their rules. Now, we could do this as another sermon on Sabbath healings and the better understanding on what the Sabbath is, but we have done that a few times here in Luke and recently too, back in Luke 13:10-17. But I don’t think that’s actually the point of this passage.

The Pharisees remained silent, and Jesus healed the man and sent him on his way. That’s all Luke says about that. Luke, who was a doctor, does not give any details. Again, I think this is because the healing here was not the actual issue here. Instead, the point of this passage is the hearts and attitudes of the Pharisees.

Jesus addresses this when he brings up what we have to assume is a non-life threatening, hypothetical situation. He says assume your son or your ox falls in a well. They are alive, but are you really gonna wait until tomorrow to try and pull them out?

Now, if you and I disagree, but you have a consistent logic behind your arguments, we can still discuss things and listen to each other and get along. But if one has an inconsistent logic, where you can’t even follow their process in how they come to their conclusions, its like talking to a brick wall.

You can have a valid argument and come to a different conclusion than I do about things. WE can talk. You can have a terrible, illogical, invalid argument and come to the same conclusion that I do. I can’t talk to you.

 

I think that’s what Jesus was dealing with here. The Pharisees are being inconsistent and hypocritical with their logic. They are saying that these rules that they have enacted are for a certain reason and then they go and undercut those reasons with other traditions and rules that they enact. Jesus is saying you can’t have it both ways.

As it closer for dinner to be served, Jesus watches everyone around him. Jesus is a great noticer. He observates very well. And he looks around and he sees how all these guests are all jockeying for position. They are looking to establish their social standing based on where they will end up sitting.

See, they are each thinking of themselves as best and they figure that if they are at the center of everyone’s view, if they are sitting in the position of honor, then others will all think better of them as well.

Jesus’ message is clear. Don’t assume the best positions. Don’t assume that you are the best and specific to this context, don’t assume that someone who isn’t more prominent than you will not show up as well. It does not matter the criteria that you use, there is always someone above you, better than you, more prominent than you.

Instead, humble yourself. Paul writes Philippians 2:3: Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Jesus just said, back in Luke 13:30 that the first will be last and the last will be first. Jesus says elsewhere that he came to serve, not to be served.

And so, set yourself low. This is not about necessarily thinking worse about yourself. Jesus is not trying to get you to beat yourself up and have all your faults weigh yourself down. But think better than you usually would about others. Don’t think of yourself as better than or more righteous than others but think of them as better than you want to.

We have a tendency to think the best of ourselves. We dismiss our mistakes. We justify our sins. We make excuses for our bad days. And we tend to think the worst of others. We judge them by their mistakes. We focus on their bad days and forget the other days. Jesus says turn this around. We are all sinners. There are none righteous, no not one.

When you put others ahead of yourself, you will find yourself blessed. So, Jesus says, sit at the end of the table, in the seat furthest from the place of honor, lowest on the totem pole. When you do that, your host can move you up higher and honor you instead of when you sit higher, and they have to ask you to move down. God humbles the proud and exalts the humble.

Now, when we are trying to put this into action, we have to be careful. This can easily lead to us fooling ourselves or to cases of false modesty and false humility. So, lets be clear. Jesus is not saying that the reason to treat others well is to be rewarded. We are to treat others well for two main reasons. First because we want to. This is what comes with a new heart, when we are new creations in Christ, is a desire to treat others well and to love one another. But also, even when we don’t necessarily want to, we know that it is the right thing to do, whether we get rewarded or not. WE know that all who are born are made in the image and likeness of Christ. They are all made with inherent dignity and worthy of respect. And so, the right thing to do is to treat them as such.

And so, we need to be careful. Continually examine ourselves and our motives. Jesus is clear in the Sermon on the Mount that the action we do, and take are only a part of the story. More important and the rest of the story is the heart with which we   do it.

One of the hardest lessons I’ve needed to learn in my life is that the right thing done for the wrong reasons is still wrong. The wrong thing done for the right reasons is still wrong. We need to do the right thing for the right reasons.

 

 

Now, Jesus is using the setting of wedding feasts and banquets. This is a common imagery used to be symbolic and to describe the kingdom of heaven, the eternal afterlife with those who are children of God.

That’s what Jesus is really getting at here in this passage, as well as the parable that we will look at next week. Norval Geldenhuys makes the connection here when he writes: Just as at the wedding feast the occupying of seats of honor does not depend on a person’s self-assertive attitude but on the discretion of the host, so also a place of honor in the kingdom of heaven does not depend on self-assertiveness or on a man’s opinion of himself but on the righteous judgement of God.

 

Jesus sees what’s going on in the world around him, and he sees what’s happening and he uses those things, teaching in parables, to communicate the truth of eternity.

And we all have some of that truth in us. Romans 1 tells us that we know the truth but suppress it in our unrighteousness. But it comes out, here and there. Not enough, in and of itself, to be a saving faith.

But the truth that God has shared with us all drips and spills out in all sorts of ways. As I was studying this week, it struck me just how many stories in our culture and society (and so many other cultures as well) where the hero of the story gets knocked down and knocked down hard. He gets humbled, he gets humiliated. And then, he gets back up, he overcomes. The glory, honor and success come, and our hero saves the day. Just like Jesus…The truth of it comes out in all sorts of pop culture ways.

God humbles the proud and exalts the lowly. IT takes humility to recognize that we have a need for a savior. The proud think they are good enough, that either they have no need for salvation or that they are good enough to save themselves.

 

The proud are self-sufficient.

The proud don’t need help.

The proud are “better” than those who need help.

The proud are hard hearted.

 

On the other hand, the humbled, they know they need help.

The humbled know that others need help as well.

The humbled know to look for help.

The humbled are soft hearted

The humbled know that their humbleness doesn’t make them better than the proud.

 

 

Jesus is reminding the people at this dinner party what is said in the Old Testament. The scriptures that they had memorized. That they claimed to live by. Proverbs 25:6 & 7 reads:

Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence
or stand in the place of the great,
for it is better to be told, “Come up here,”
than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.

 

 

 

That’s a nice reminder that if we claim to Love God, if we claim to love Jesus and to be a follower of him, we need to study his word and put it into practice. As often as you are able, in whatever ways you are able, study and read Gods Word.

And then look inside yourself, at the heart with which you do the things you do. How you treat and see others is a direct reflection of you, your heart for God and following that all people are image bearers of God and are worthy of dignity and respect. Treat them as such.

Ill leave you once again with Philippians 2:3

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves

 

 

 

Let’s Pray

Luke 13:31-35 Jesus is the Son of Man Jesus’ Heart for the Lost

Luke 13:31-35

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus’ Heart for the Lost

 

(Note: It has come to my attention that my sermon posts from Nov ’21 through the begining of Feb ’22 have been lost. So i will be reposting them here, meaning they wont necessarily be in the order they were preached and recorded. THank you for your understanding)

All right! Please turn in your Bible with me to Luke chapter 13. As I always say, just in case, if you do not have a Bible, or if you have a need of a Bible, please see me after the service so we can work on getting one into your hands.

 

So, we finish up Luke chapter 13 today and we see Jesus show us his heart. He has been strongly warning the people who have assumed their standing with God, those who have trusted in their works or their ethnicity or anything else. He has been warning them that they need to repent, to turn away from their trusting in other things. They need to repent and turn to Christ alone. They need to turn away from their own righteousness and trust simply and solely in Christ’s righteousness.

But we also know that this is only one side, one extreme of the pendulum. This is the good, moral, righteous, “Of course I’m in…” crowd. Jesus does not take joy in their destruction. Jesus is showing his heart for these who won’t listen and are therefore lost, and we see that here in today’s passage.

WE will be reading Luke chapter 13, verses 31 through 35. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. As always, I greatly encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. What is important is not my reading, or which translation but that you are in fact reading the Word of God.

So, Luke 13:31-35, Luke writes, inspired by the Holy Spirit:

 

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. 33 Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

 

May God Bless the reading of his Word.

 

We start at verse 31, where Luke writes, “at that very hour…” We see the same thing we looked at the last few weeks. This phrase shows that this takes place at the same time, in the same setting as what we looked at last week.

Now, on first glance, it appears that at least a few of the Pharisees liked or at least cared about Jesus. They are warning Jesus that Herod wants to and is going to try and kill Jesus.  That’s awful kind of them, right?

Except the problem is that when we read the rest of the Gospels, including just the last few chapters of Luke, this seems very out of character from how they usually act. RC Sproul speculates that they were actually trying to scare Jesus into leaving where they were, where Herod had control and authority and having him go to Judea, where the Pharisees had the control and authority.

Now, Herod remember is almost more of a title than a name. There were multiple Herod’s. This is not the same one who was in charge when Jesus was born and the wisemen came. This was the Herod who had John the Baptist killed. And he had heard about Jesus and had heard about his teachings and his miracles. And he feared that Jesus was John the Baptist come back to life. This was the Herod who would end up being instrumental in Jesus’ death, during the illegal trials that took place the night leading up to his crucifixion.

So, this threat would not have seemed completely legitimate and credible when the Pharisees delivered it. One other commentator combines that with RC Sproul’s idea and wonders if Herod told the Pharisees to tell Jesus about the threat, without intending to follow up on it, hoping that the threat would be enough to move Jesus on. This commentator speculates that Herod had already lost much of his political capitol and public support after he killed John that he would have been hesitant the actually kill the very popular Jesus.

No matter what the thoughts, intents and motivations of Herod and the Pharisees, Jesus knew that he was not going to be killed then and there. He calls Herod a fox. This was animal that was not look kindly upon by the Jewish people. They were associated with being deceitfully cunning. Jesus was showing and telling the people that he the utmost contempt for Herod. And Herod had the authority and the ability to follow through in this if Jesus were not on a mission from God.

But Jesus tells them to send a message back to Herod. And he uses the present tense to show that his ministry is not over, he is not stopping or running, but it is continuing until it is meant to be over. It is for a limited time, that what the phrasing he uses means. But the limitation on that has nothing to do with Herod, or any other Human being for that matter. Jesus is going to continuing teaching, preaching and healing and casting out demons until he gets to Jerusalem and is put to death the way and at the time that the Father has determined.

When Jesus mentions the third day, he is, again, using phrasing that was well known to mean that there was a finite amount of time to his ministry. But he was making a very clear, at least in hindsight, allusion to his death and resurrection, that he would be put to death and then rise again on the third day.

Now, in verse 33, Jesus does say that he needs to continue his travels and not just hunker down right where they were. However, he clarifies that this is because of God’s plan, not because of Herod or the Pharisees or anyone else.

Jesus had a very specific timeline to follow. All the specifics of Gods plan were laid out and figured out, all the details were set up well before hand. Jesus had to go and die in Jerusalem.

It was at the end of Luke 9 that Jesus set his face upon Jerusalem. His entire ministry from that point forward was bringing him to Jerusalem, in the right place, at the right time, to fulfill the plans of God.

And what Jesus was saying here was not that every single one of the prophets whom God had called were killed inside of Jerusalem.  Rather, what we are seeing is that Jerusalem, as shown throughout the history of the Jewish people, was the center of the Jewish religion and worship.

What Jesus was saying was that those religious hardliners, the ones that Jesus has been teaching and preaching against, the ones he has been warning not to assume their admission to heaven, the religious establishment. These men were much more dangerous to a true prophet of God than any threats from Herod in Galilee or anyone else from anywhere. These men wanted more than anyone else to shut Jesus up and ruin and end His ministry.

Jerusalem was the very symbol of the Jewish religion. It was synonymous with the Jewish religion. It was very similar to the way the Pope is the symbol of and is synonymous with the Catholic church.

These types of symbols, as heads of establishments, they often gain power and influence, they establish the rules and the standards and if anyone goes against them, the hammer comes down swiftly and hard.

That’s what we see happening with Jesus here. That’s what we saw with the Catholic Church during the Reformation. Martin Luther was the face of it, but there were so many more men who were fighting for the Word of God and were being persecuted by the church at the time. Zwingli, Tyndale, Hus, Calvin, just a few of the names.

Speaking the truth of God, straight from the Word of God, speaking the true Word of God will often lead to persecution from those who have power and a warped view and teaching of the Word of God.

Luke ends this section with Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem in verses 34 & 35. Some believe that these verses did not happen here chronologically. That Jesus didn’t say these words right here during this back and forth with the Pharisees. If that’s the case, Luke includes them here because they fit perfectly with the theme, they fit exactly with what Jesus is saying. In that case, this lament would have been spoken by Jesus as he enters Jerusalem as also recorded in Matthew 22, verses 37 & 38. Of course, its also possible that Jesus shared this lament on multiple occasions and ultimately, makes no difference in meaning or application when these words were spoken, only that they were spoken.

Jesus laments over Jerusalem and their rejection of Him. Webster defines lament as “to express sorrow, regret, or unhappiness about something.” Another definition I saw, “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.”

Jesus poured his heart out during this lamentation. He is speaking to Jerusalem, the very symbol of the Jewish people. He says, I have invited you to be a part of my kingdom. I have sent prophets and messengers to extend this invitation to you.

And you keep rejecting them!

You keep rejecting the message and invitation!

You keep rejecting me!

Jesus says that this breaks my heart! He says, how often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

Now this is a word picture, it doesn’t mean He’s a bird. But he uses this word picture in a way common to scriptures and the culture at the time. The hen as a mother was a common metaphor for loving care.

Jesus is showing his heart and his longing here. Kent Hughes writes that Jesus longs for us to find sustenance, warmth and especially security in him. Under his wings, as it were. He does not delight in the death of the unrepentant, of the unrighteous.

Ezekiel 18:23 & 32:  Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?

 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”

But Jesus says, you have rejected me. You have rejected the Father. You have rejected the offer of salvation. And so, there is no hope for you if you do not repent and believe.

 

 

We are all responsible for our own selves. We are all individually responsible for not experiencing the love of Christ and the salvation that comes with it. WE cannot depend on our family, our household, or nationality or ethnicity, even the way it is used today, we cannot depend on our religion to save us. IT is only in response to our own acceptance or rejection that we can depend on and determine our eternal fate.

Jesus tells Jerusalem, your house is forsaken. The offer that you thought was exclusive to you, has been withdrawn. To clarify, that exclusivity has been withdrawn. The offer and invitation are now open for all to hear and respond to. Now, a new surprise to them, only those Jewish people who confess Jesus as LORD will go through the narrow door into Heaven.

This is not a plan B or a surprise reaction by God. “Oh no, they rejected me, hurry, come up with another plan. This is all a part of the same plan of redemption that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit come up with and implemented before the beginning of time.

One commentator likens us today to Jerusalem then. IF we do not come to him, repent from our sins and believe on him, we too will be forsaken and destroyed.

I cannot emphasize enough here that we are truly seeing Jesus’ heart for the lost. HE is not an emotionless, stoic guy walking through and just saying, believe or don’t, makes no difference to me, just choose. He does not want any to perish, but for all to come to repentance. Of course, not all will come to repentance, some will and have perished. But that doesn’t mean that Jesus does not grieve for those who have.

I love how Kent Hughes describes Jesus and his heart here, as he writes:

WE also see his extraordinary human spirit. The relentless terror of the cross daily loomed higher over his life, but his love for others drove him on. He was truly sympathetic with those who came to him, totally engaged when they spoke. He was tender with every need. He wore himself out ministering to others. And all the while he moved closer to his cosmic excruciation. 

 

And we need to think abut this. If Jesus was able to love, to have genuine, pure love for even the worst of sinners, those who completely rejected him, how also, should we have that same heart for the worst sinners we know, those who choose the worst sins in our eyes.

I saw someone say last week, and I couldn’t find it again so I’m paraphrasing, that if Jesus died for people who reject him, beat him, killed him, the least I can do is treat people I don’t like with dignity and respect.

 

Now, Bruce Larson, on the end of Luke chapter 13, writes:

The chapter ends with a poignant lamentation. Jesus must accept, though with sadness, the fact that there are people who will not accept the kingdom. His agony over Jerusalem and its hardness of heart is the same agony He has now for the hardness of heart of those of us in the New Jerusalem. Jesus, then and now, is in anguish over those who cannot accept the life He is offering, who have hardened their hearts to the plea of God to come into his kingdom.

The reason I keep mentioning the heart of Jesus and his love for those who reject him is just in case. The passages we have looked at the last few weeks can sound discouraging. If I have done a pour job, they might come across as very heavy and may cause us to feel beaten down. When Jesus says not all who think they are in, will be in, our human tendency is to either completely ignore him or to think he is telling us we are not in.

 

And so, if you have felt any of that over the last couple of weeks, Jesus is here to say There is hope. The invitation of salvation is extended to all. You can accept it right now. And if you already have, then do not fear, for he will never forsake you. Turn those burdens over to him. Rest in Him.

Quit trusting in your works. But also, quit condemning yourself for sins that have already been forgiven. Quit condemning yourself for your sins and accept the forgiveness and rest that’s being offered and let Christ gather you as one of his children just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.

 

 

If you are in Christ, one of his chicks, to continue using the word picture, then on the first Sunday as we celebrate communion. We are going to this now with partaking of bread and juice symbolizing his body and blood and with reflection.

If you have not truly repented and trusted in Christ, please just pass the elements along. There is nothing magical about it. There is nothing special about it for those who do not believe that Jesus Christ gave his broken body and his blood for the forgiveness of our sins. There will be no pressure and no judgment.

Stemming from that, Communion does not save us, it does not cleanse us, it does not do anything along those lines. It has no power to keep us clean or to restore our relationship with God, only Jesus can do that. This was given to us by Jesus for the purpose of remembering. Remembering who Jesus was. Remembering what Jesus did for us. Remembering how much he loved us and remembering just how big of a deal our sin really is. It is meant to be sobering and somber, but at the same time it is meant to be a celebration.

Thirdly, we are told that we need to come and participate with the right heart. As I said, we do this in remembrance of what he gave up for us, the sacrifice he made. We do this because we remember how big of a deal our sin is, that he died on the cross for it. We need to make sure that our hearts and minds have their hearts set on what’s important and that we seek God’s forgiveness and make our relationships are right with him. In addition to a tradition becoming too important and placed above the word of God, tradition can become bad is by it losing its meaning and becoming simply a ritual. Please take some of this time to reflect on what this tradition means and to make sure that you are prepared to receive. There will never be any judgment if you choose not to participate, and just pass the plate.

Paul recounts to the church in Corinth what I now tell you as well, in 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26:

 

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for[e] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[f] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

 

          We have individual cups that contains both the wafers, which symbolize Jesus’ broken body on the cross. His Death that pays the penalty for our sins. It also contains the juice, symbolizing the shed blood of Christ, which purchases our eternal life in Christ, through faith.

First, we will take the wafer together. Afterwards, we will take the juice together and we will be united together under the cross and blood of Jesus Christ. I will pray and we will come to the LORDs table.

Lastly, I want to read the words of RC Sproul and plead on last time for anyone who has not repented as of yet. HE writes:

If you have lived this long without ever having truly repented of your sins or fled to Christ for your forgiveness and your healing, today may be your last chance. You may not have next week or even tomorrow. Don’t presume on the grace of God. IF when you lay your head on your pillow tonight, you remain unconverted, I pray that you would not sleep until you are on your knees before the living God, taking advantage of the blessed redemption that he has given to all who repent and believe in the LORD Jesus Christ.

 

Amen. Let’s celebrate Communion.

 

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